Onobrychis viciifolia* (Sainfoin)

Introduced, perennial, nitrogen-fixing legume with stout, erect to nearly-erect, hollow, succulent stems, up to 4 ft. in height. Sainfoin is quickly gaining popularity in the U.S. and Canada as a non-bloat forage alternative to alfalfa. Extremely palatable and highly nutritious to all types of livestock and wildlife, with digestibility equal to alfalfa. Grow for high-protein hay, pasture or silage in either pure stands or as a component of grass mixtures. Also use for habitat enhancement or in wildlife food plots. Excellent pollinator species and a superior honey plant to alfalfa. It is both drought-tolerant and winter-hardy. Neither invasive or weedy. Matures faster than alfalfa, providing early spring forage.

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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:


Eski - Developed for use in non-irrigated pastures or land with limited water. Later to mature than Remont. Used frequently in reclamation seed mixes in western rangelands. (Released 1964)

Delaney - A multiple-cut variety with excellent regrowth potential, best suited as a replacement for Remont under high rainfall or irrigation. Higher forage yields under irrigation than other sainfoins, birdsfoot trefoils, cicer milkvetchs and Ladak 65 alfalfa. (Released 2007)

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

Shoshone - Cold-hardy variety developed for high tolerance to the northern root-knot nematode. Resistant to alfalfa stem nematode. Typically single-cut, but better regrower than Remont or Eski. Higher yield than Remont in both dryland and irrigated settings. (Released 2006)