Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, is an herbaceous perennial in the plant family Fabaceae (peas and beans) which is primarily grown as a forage crop which can be grazed by animals or harvested as hay to be used as an animal feed. Alfalfa has a deeply penetrating taproot and the stems of the plant branch from a woody base, growing upright and erect or along the ground. The leaves of the plant are made up of three individual leaflets (trifoliate) which are are narrow and oval or oblong in shape with a smooth upper surface and slightly hairy lower surface. Alfalfa plants produce flowers on racemes (flower stalks) and each raceme possesses 10–35 densely packed purple flowers. Alfalfa produces spirally coiled seed pods each containing 2–6 seeds. Pods may have a smooth or hairy outer surface. Alfalfa plants can reach a height of 120 cm (47 in) and live for between 3 and 8 years. Alfalfa is also commonly referred to as lucerne and is believed to have originated in Caucasus area, north-western Iran and north-eastern Turkey.