Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 09/08/2014


Photo taken on September  2, 2014


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Keywords

macro
Calgary
Onobrychis viciifolia
Sainfoin
FZ200
annkelliott
Anne Elliott
non-native
Carburn Park
Onobrychis sativa
Onobrychis viciaefolia
Alberta
Lumix
nature
flora
flower
bokeh
plant
close-up
weed
wildflower
introduced
Canada
Hedysarum onobrychis


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Sainfoin / Onobrychis viciifolia

Sainfoin / Onobrychis viciifolia
Sainfoin has been grown in parts of Europe and Asia for hundreds of years. Various strains have been introduced to North America as a forage crop since about 1900. I came across this plant growing at Carburn Park on 2 September 2014, when I was on a birding walk - I think this is the only location in the city where it grows. Belongs to the Pea family and blooms June-August. It is considered a weed, but, as usual, a very beautiful weed. I love the deep pink stripes on the petals.

"Like many plants with a long period of human use, it is known by many common names. In English, it is commonly called sainfoin from the French for "healthy hay". Sometimes it is called holy hay--a confusion of "saint" for "sain".

Healthy hay is a fitting moniker. It is nutritionally comparable to alfalfa and equally, if not more, palatable to livestock. In addition, research has shown that it inhibits nematode parasitism in ruminants due to its high tannin content. A good report on the use of sainfoin as a feed crop is available on Feedipedia: Onobrychis viciifolia, while images of the species growing as a field crop are available via the Alberta Native Plant Council. As a crop, the plant is considered a good environmental choice: it forms a deep tap root that helps soil stabilization, its roots house nitrogen-fixing bacteria that improve the soil, and its melliferous flowers attract bees and birds. A fine, clear honey has been produced in areas where the plant is cultivated. Lastly, it is more tolerant of drought and cold than other forage crops like alfalfa and clover.

Despite its many benefits, it has largely been replaced by alfalfa and clover in the past century. The main drawback is its poor regrowth after cutting and resultant lower production." From UBC Botany Photo of the Day website.

www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/potd/2013/04/onobrychis-viciif...

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