Onobrychis viciifolia (Sainfoin)

Tall nitrogen-fixing perennial legume with hollow, succulent stems and pink-striped flowers. Large, deep branching taproot and fine lateral roots. Drought tolerant and winter hardy. Low salt tolerance. Intolerant of high water tables and wet soils; long-lived on dryland when managed properly. Matures faster than Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), providing early spring forage. Quickly gaining popularity as a non-bloat forage alternative to alfalfa. Extremely palatable and highly nutritious; digestibility equal to alfalfa. Use for hay, pasture, rangeland or silage, alone or with grasses. Also use for wildlife habitat enhancement and food plots for elk, deer, pheasant and sage-grouse. Superior honey plant to alfalfa. Not invasive or weedy.


Onobrychis viciifolia (Sainfoin) map.png


Family: Fabaceae

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Forb/herb

Native Status: Introduced

Growth Form: Single Crown

Mature Height: 30 in.

Bloom Color: Pink

Bloom Period: Early Spring

Annual Precipitation: 10-45 in.

Drought Tolerance: Medium

Shade Tolerance: Intolerant

Fire Resistance: No

Fire Tolerance: Low

Nitrogen fixation: Medium

Bloat: Non-bloat


Coarse Texture: Yes

Medium Texture: Yes

Fine Texture: No

Salinity Tolerance: Medium

CaCO3 Tolerance: High

pH Range: 6.0-8.5


Seeds per Pound: 30,200

Seeding Rate: 35-45 lbs/acre (irrigated) 25-35 lbs/acre (dryland)

Season: Spring/Fall

Days to Germination:


Delaney - Multiple-cut variety with excellent regrowth potential. Higher forage yields under irrigation than other varieties, as well as Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer) and Ladak 65 (Alfalfa, Medicago sativa). Use as a replacement for Remont under high rainfall or irrigation. (Released 2007)

Eski - Developed for use in non-irrigated pastures or land with limited water. Used frequently in reclamation, rangelands and wildlife habitat mixtures. Later to mature than Remont. (Released 1964)

Remont - Extremely cold hardy variety with early spring growth and rapid regrowth after haying or grazing. Susceptible to frost damage. High yield potential in areas with a long growing season. (Released 1971)

Shoshone - Developed for high tolerance to the northern root-knot soil nematode. Resistant to alfalfa stem nematode. Cold hardy. Regrows better than Remont and Eski. Higher yield than Remont in both dryland and irrigated settings. (Released 2004)