Traditional uses and benefits of Sainfoin

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Sainfoin Quick Facts
Name: Sainfoin
Scientific Name: Onobrychis viciifolia
Origin Turkey, Iran and Europe
Shapes Egg-shaped pods that are leathery and non-splitting. They are 6-8 mm long, hairy, net-ridged, pimply or short-prickly on the sides
Health benefits Support diabetes, neurotic disorders, hypochondriacal conditions, sleep disorders, impotence, constipation, colitis and menopause
Sainfoin scientifically known as Onobrychis viciifolia is a deep-rooted perennial legume belonging to Fabaceae / Leguminosae (Pea family). The plant is native to Turkey, Iran and Europe. It was first cultivated in northern France and in the United Kingdom. It is now widespread in warm-temperate Europe, Asia, Mediterranean countries and western North America. Some of the popular common names of the plants are Common Sainfoin, Sainfoin legume, Esparcet, Holy-clover and Vicia-leaved holy-clover.  The plant is possibly occasionally used for food. It is an excellent soil stabilizer and conditioner, especially on dry, limestone soils and is sometimes grown as an ornamental.

Sainfoin Facts

Name Sainfoin
Scientific Name Onobrychis viciifolia
Native Turkey, Iran and Europe. It was first cultivated in northern France (Delgado Munoz, 2008) and in the United Kingdom (Koivisto et al., 2001). It is now widespread in warm-temperate Europe (as far as Sweden), Asia, Mediterranean countries and western North America
Common Names Sainfoin, Common Sainfoin, Sainfoin legume, Esparcet, Holy-clover, Vicia-leaved holy-clover      
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Esparset, sainfoin
Albanian: Sainfoin, esparceta me gjethe grashine, esparcetë     
Amharic: Sainfoin-ˈsānˌfoin
Arabic: Sainfoin-ˈsānˌfoin, عنبريس بيقي الأوراق
Aragonese: Esparceta, pimpirigallo, pipirigallo
Armenian: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Azerbaijani: Sainfoin
Basque: Astorki, astorkia
Belarusian: Esparciet pasiaŭny (Эспарцэт пасяўны)
Bengali: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Bulgarian: Esparzeta (еспарзета), fiyeva yesparzeta (фиева еспарзета)              
Burmese: She (သီဟ)
Catalan: Esparcet, esparceta, pipirigall, trepadella, trepadella cultivada
Chinese: Zàogān (皂苷), Hong dou cao (红豆草), Lü shi cao (驴食草),  Lü shi dou
Cornish: Gweg benigys
Croatian: Slatka djetelina, sjetvena grahorka     
Czech: Sainfoin, Vi, vičenec ligrus
Danish: Esparsette, Foder-esparsette
Dutch: Sainfoin, Esparcette, Hanekamklaver
English: Sainfoin, Common Sainfoin, Sainfoin legume, Esparcet, Holy-clover, Vicia-leaved holy-clover     
Esperanto: Sainfoin        
Estonian: Sainfoin, Harilik Esparsett, Onobrychis sativa
Filipino: Sainfoin             
Finnish: Esparsetti
French: Sainfoin, Esparcette, Esparcette Cultivee, Esparcette à feuilles de Vesce, Sainfoin cultivé, Sainfoin à feuilles de Vesce, Esparcette cultivée, Bourgogne, crête de coq, deux coupes,        
Georgian: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
German: Sainfoin, Esparcette, Esparsette, Futter-Esparcette, Futter-Esparsette, Futteresparsette, Gewöhnliche Esparsette, Saat-Esparsette, Hahnenkamm                        
Greek: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin), Onobrichis
Gujarati: Sainaphō īna (સૈનફોઈન)
Hausa: Sainfoin
Hebrew: קדוש
Hindi: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Hungarian: Baltacím, Takarmánybaltacim
Icelandic: Dýrling            
Indonesian: Sainfoin     
Irish: Sainfoin   
Italian: Fieno santo, Crocetta, Fieno-santo, Lupinella, Lupinella commune, sanofieno
Japanese: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin), Onoburikisu
Javanese: Sainfoin          
Kannada: Sainphoyin (ಸೈನ್ಫೊಯಿನ್)
Kazakh: Zäytün (зәйтүн)              
Korean: Sapo tin (사포 틴)
Kurdish: Sainfoin             
Lao: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Latin: Sainfoin  
Latvian: Sainfoin, Vīķlapu esparsete       
Lithuanian: Sainfoin, Sejamasis Bandvikis, Sejamasis Esparcetas               
Macedonian: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin), esparzeta (еспарзета)
Malagasy: Sainfoin         
Malay: Sainfoin
Malayalam: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Maltese: Sainfoin           
Marathi: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Mongolian: Gegeenten (гэгээнтэн)
Nepali: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Norwegian: Esparsett
Occitan: Esparceta, farouche, garrossin, sanfoèn
Oriya: Sainfoin
Pashto: ساين فون         
Persian: Sainfoin, اسپرس ویکیفولیا
Polish: Sainfoin, Sparceta siewna, Esparceta siewna
Portuguese: Sanfeno, Esparceta, Sanfeno-de-espanha, Sanfeno, esparzeta       
Punjabi: Sā īnaphā īna (ਸਾਈਨਫਾਈਨ)
Romanian: Sparcetă, Sparchete Mezerefolie
Russian: Espartsyet (эспарцет), Espartzet Posevnoi, Espartzet Vikolistnyi (Эспарцет виколистный), espartset posevnoy (эспарцет посевной)   
Serbian: Sainfoin (саинфоин)
Sindhi: سائنفوين
Sinhala: Sayinfoyin (සයින්ෆොයින්)
Slovak: Vičenec vikolistý, ľadniček obyčajný       
Slovenian: Sainfoin, Navadna turshka detelja, Esparzeta
Spanish: Pipirigallo, Arveja de asno, Esparceta, Esparcetilla, Pipirigallo, Esparceta común, Esparcetilla , Esparcilla, Pimpirigallo , Pipirigallo común , Trepadella, Navadna turška detelja, arbeja de asno, cresta de abubilla, esparceta loca
Sundanese: Sainfoin      
Swedish: Esparsett, Esparsetti, Helghö
Tajik: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Tamil: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Telugu: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Thai: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin)
Turkish: Korunga, Fiğ yapraklı korunga
Ukrainian: Sainfoin (sānˌfoin), Esparset Vikolystnyi, espartset vikolistnıy (еспарцет виколистий), espartset dniprovsʹkyy (еспарцет дніпровський)
Upper Sorbian: Sywny turkowski dźećel
Urdu: Sainfoin  
Uzbek: Sainfoin               
Vietnamese: Sainfoin   
Welsh: Sainfoin, Blodau’r Preseb, Codog, Gwyran Fendigaid, Pen y Ceiliog, y godog
Zulu: Sainfoin
Plant Growth Habit Erect, deep-rooted, perennial herbaceous legume plant
Growing Climates Grassland on chalk and limestone, dry, sunny meadows, pastureland, roadsides, fields, waste lots, mesic to dry fields, clearings, and other disturbed areas
Soil Prefers a well-drained neutral to alkaline sandy loam in full sun. Succeeds in poor soils and in shallow soils over chalk and dislikes shade. It does not succeed in wet soils
Plant Size 40 to 100 cm in height
Root Roots are deep tap-roots
Stem Several, ascending to erect, 20-60 cm tall, tufted, sparsely stiff-hairy
Leaf Leaves are pinnate, compound, formed from 15–25 small leaflets. The shape of the leaves is elliptical, oblong-elliptical or (mainly in the upper leaves) lanceolate, oblong-lanceolate
Flowering season June to August
Flower Calyx is bell-shaped, the 5 teeth linear-lanceolate, equal, twice as long as the tube. Corollas are pea-like, 10-13 mm. long, pink to lavender, prominently lined with reddish-purple
Fruit Shape & Size Egg-shaped pods that are leathery and non-splitting. They are 6-8 mm long, hairy, net-ridged, pimply or short-prickly on the sides
Fruit Color Brown
Seed True seeds is variable from 2.5 to4.5 mm long, 2 to 3.5 mm broad and 1.5 to 2 mm thick(Fig. 2). Unmilled seed and milled seed weigh approximately 24 and 15 g/1000 numbers, respectively

Plant Description

Sainfoin is an erect, deep-rooted, perennial herbaceous legume plant that normally grows about 40 to 100 cm in height. The plant is found growing in grassland on chalk and limestone, dry, sunny meadows, pastureland, roadsides, fields, waste lots, mesic to dry fields, clearings, and other disturbed areas. The plant prefers a well-drained neutral to alkaline sandy loam in full sun. It succeeds in poor soils and in shallow soils over chalk and dislikes shade. It does not succeed in wet soils. The plant has erect or sub-erect hollow stems growing up to a height of 100. It has a deep tap root system with few main branches and numerous fine lateral roots, which provide sites for root nodule development.

Leaves

The leaves are pinnate, compound, formed from 15–25 small leaflets. The shape of the leaves is elliptical, oblong-elliptical or (mainly in the upper leaves) lanceolate, oblong-lanceolate. Leaflets are narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate, 1-2 cm. long, with a small, sharp point at the tip. Stipules are lanceolate, 5-12 mm. long, papery, reddish-brown.

Flowers

Inflorescence of spike-like racemes on long peduncles arising in the leaf axils, 10-50 pea-like flowers, the stout raceme-stalks longer than the leaves. Calyx is bell-shaped, the 5 teeth linear-lanceolate, equal, twice as long as the tube. Corollas are pea-like, 10-13 mm. long, pink to lavender, prominently lined with reddish-purple; the wings are much shorter than the banner or keel. Stamens are 10, monodelphous, but the upper filament free at the base and the upper 1/3 of its length. Flowering normally takes place in between June to August.

Fruits & Seeds

Fertile flowers are followed by egg-shaped pods that are leathery and non-splitting. They are 6-8 mm long, hairy, net-ridged, pimply or short-prickly on the sides. The fruit color is mainly determined by the ripeness at harvesting time. The fruit is either spiny or spine-less. The degree of spininess is characteristic for different lines and is genetically determined. The size of the seeds is variable from 2.5 to 4.5 mm long, 2 to 3.5 mm broad and 1.5 to 2 mm thick. Unmilled seed and milled seed weigh approximately 24 and 15 g/1000 numbers, respectively. Seeds are large with only 18,500 (pre-husked) seeds per pound

Traditional uses and benefits of Sainfoin & Sainfoin honey

  • In folk medicine, sainfoin is used as a means of increasing the body’s resistance to various infectious diseases.
  • It is also taken by people suffering from diabetes.
  • Infusions and decoctions of sainfoin help lower blood cholesterol levels and increase hemoglobin levels.
  • Sometimes folk healers include sandy sainfoin in sedative collections for the treatment of neurotic disorders, hypochondriacal conditions and sleep disorders.
  • In traditional medicine, a decoction of the herb and sainfoin roots (sometimes in combination with field talabani) or tincture with sainfoin is used to treat impotence and other male sexual dysfunctions, as well as for diseases of the prostate gland.
  • It also increases concentration and improves vision.
  • It has the property of balancing the nervous system due to its mild sedative function.
  • It cleans the blood from toxins and promotes the resorption of blood clots.
  • It normalizes bowel function and helps fight constipation and enter colitis.
  • It Increases androgen levels (improving erectile function in men).
  • Lotions mixed from a bee product and aloe juice relieve pain in burns and psoriasis, heal the affected skin.
  • In gynecology honey collection is used for douching and baths.
  • It is useful for women during menopause

Other Facts

  • It is a good soil conditioner for poor light soils.
  • The plants can be grown on the land for a number of years, the deep tap roots breaking up the sub-soil and bringing up minerals from below.
  • Plants can be cut during the growing season but care must be taken not to cut too low because the tap root tends to rise above ground level and the plant can be killed if this is cut off.
  • The plant has an extensive root system and is useful for stabilizing soils.
  • Sainfoin is used both as green manure and cover crop.
  • In abandoned areas and hill slopes, where erosion may be a problem, sainfoin seedlings may prevent desertification and erosion, and maintain soil fertility.
  • Its melliferous flowers attract bees and birds and enhance biodiversity.
  • The high tannin concentration of sainfoin prevents bloating in ruminants, and reduces methane and ammonia production.
  • In the UK is traditionally used as a hay crop, although it can be cut for silage.
  • It has been observed that animals receiving sainfoin for food do not suffer from some diseases, in particular, tympanitis.
  • Sainfoin blooms from the second year of the plant’s life.
  • The flowering period is from early summer to July.
  • Each blooming flower does not live long, only 10-12 hours.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=26810#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=25737

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Onobrychis+viciifolia

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/ONBVI

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/ild-5130

https://www.feedipedia.org/node/703

https://agresearch.montana.edu/wtarc/producerinfo/agronomy-nutrient-management/Sainfoin/NRCSPLantGuide.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onobrychis_viciifolia

https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=ONVI

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