Medics grow best during the warmer conditions of autumn and spring, but a wet autumn can provide a good amount of feed during winter. This freeseeding annual legume has a creeping and prostrate growth habit but does not root from its nodes. Barrel medics flower in spring after a ‘vernalisation’ period of cold weather, producing small, yellow flowers that give rise to a spiral burr containing 6-10 seeds. The burr has straight spines and can be combed from wool. Medics are adapted to a Mediterranean climate with dry summers. They survive wet summers in the subtropics because of their hard seed, but with enough softening to allow re-establishment in autumn. In permanent pastures, medics suffer from competition in autumn from the summer growth of grasses. Reducing this by heavy grazing in autumn, summer drought or by cultivation improves seed germination.
Soil type: Sandy loam to clay loam
Soil pH: (CaCl2) 5.7 - 8.5
Rainfall range: 350 - 550mm