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a genus of plants of the family Leguminosae. The plants include perennial herbs and, less commonly, shrubs; a few species are annual grasses. The stems are erect or climbing. The odd-pinnate leaves consist of 12 to 25 leaflets. The pinkish red flowers are in long many-flowered racemes. The pods contain a single smooth, grayish yellow, kidney-shaped seed. The rachial root extends 2–3 m into the ground (sometimes to 10 m).
There are more than 130 species. The USSR has 62 species, growing mainly in the Caucasus, the Ukraine, and Middle Asia. There are three cultivated species: O. viciifolia (commonly called sainfoin, holy clover, or esparcet), O. arenaria, and O. transcaucasica. Varieties of O. arenaria and hybrids with O. viciifolia and O. transcaucasica have been regionalized in the Ukrainian SSR, the RSFSR, the Kirghiz SSR, and the Kazakh SSR. O. transcaucasica has been regionalized in Transcaucasia and the Northern Caucasus. O. viciifolia is currently being replaced by plantings of the other two species because of insufficient winter-hardiness and low productivity.
All three species are valuable feed crops and are raised for green feed, hay, and pasturage. All types of livestock eat the crop. One hundred kg of green mass contain 22 feed units, 3.1 kg of digestible protein, and 6.5 g of carotene. The plants are drought resistant. They grow successfully in forest-steppe and steppe regions on almost all soils except those that are acidic or swampy. Growth is good on chernozems but somewhat less successful on dark chestnut soils. Soils rich in lime are preferable, but limed stony soils and steep slopes are adequate. Pollination is effected by insects, mostly bees. The plants are nectar-bearers.
In 1977, Onobrychis occupied about 1 million hectares in the USSR. It is usually sown under a cover of grain crops (the grain is planted sparsely or mowed for green feed). Harvesting for hay must be done no later than the middle of flowering. In field crop rotations the plants are usually used as a fallow crop. Onobrychis is a good predecessor for all spring crops, because it enriches the soil with nitrogen and improves its structure. In feed crop rotations Onobrychis is sown in grass mixtures with awnless bromegrass, meadow fescue, alfalfa, or clover. Onobrychis is cultivated in several European countries (France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland), Canada, and the USA.
REFERENCEGladkii, M. F., A. A. Kornilov, and Ia. L. latsenko. Espartset. Moscow, 1971.
V. M. RABINOVICH