Saintfoin, the Common or Cock's head, Hedysarum Ono-brychis, L. a, native perennial, plant, which grows in meadows and pastures, on chalky soils, where it flowers in the months June and July. There are several varieties, known under the names of White-flowered, Blue-flowered, Purple-flow ered, Striped-flowered, and Long-leaved Hoary Saintfoin.
This plant thrives most luxu-riantly on dry and chalky lands, in high and exposed situations, so, that its culture would chiefly bene-fit the Northern parts of Britain ; for it requires no rich land, but a clayey and gravelly bottom.- It is propagated from seed; the best of which has a bright husk; the ker-nel being plump, externally of a grey or blueish cast, but when cut, internally of a fresh greenish colour.
The proper season for sowing the Cock's head, is in the mont.h of March; the quantity of seed varies, from one to four, and even eight bushels per acre, broad-east; though the most economical method is that of drilling it in rows two feet asunder; by which half a bushel is sufficient to stock an acre. This vegetable is, however, occasionally sown together with Clover, or with barley, in the proportion of from one to three bushels per acre, to which 5lbs. of trefoil are generally added; as the latter prevents the growth of weeds, till the saintfoin has taken deep root.
This species of clover is one of the most promising plants, which might be cultivated in Britain; and it is much to be regretted, that its introduction should be almost: totally neglected by so many tenants or proprietors of poor, shallow, and stony soils; as it will produce, on their worst lands, at least one ton of hay, together with a considerable after-growth for grazing cattle. Saintfoin, indeed, will yield abundant crops for ten or fifteen years, at the expiration of which, it will afford an excellent pasture for sheep, during several succeeding years; and, if the soil be rich, it will produce two crops annually; except, however, in the first two or three years, when the growth seldom exceeds one load, or half a crop per acre: but no cattle should be suffered to graze on it, for the first winter; as their feet will injure it: nor should any sheep be fed on it during the second summer; because they are apt to bite the crowns or tops of the roots, the growth of which would thus be immediately checked.
At the expiration of seven or eight years, it will be proper to manure the soil with dung; and, if it be sandy, with marle. Should the first season for mowing prove, wet, the saintfoin must be left tor seed; it ought not, however, to be cut before it is in full bloom; as the quality of the hay would; thus be materially injured; but, if it be given to cattle, while green, it will produce a second crop in the same year. Whether it be consumed in a fresh or dry state, it is equally useful for feeding cattle, and is said to fatten sheep more speedily than any other vegetable. It is farther believed to increase the quantity and improve, the quality of milk in cows, the cream of which becomes not only richer, but the butter acquires a better colour, and more delicious flavour. Lastly, saintfoin is an uncommonly strengthening provender for horses, which, when fed with it, require no oats.