Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Crotalaria pallida Aiton, 1789

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Fabales
Family:Fabaceae
Genus:Crotalaria
Species:C. pallida
Common Names:Rattlebox Plant
Status:Naturalised

Description

This is an erect shrub, annual or short-lived perennial herb of 1.5 m or more tall.  The stout stem is hairy and has longitudinal grooves. Leaves are trifoliate with a 2-8.5 cm long petiole, leaflets 3-13 x 2-5 cm and elliptical to obovate. Flowers are yellow, often reddish-brown veined and borne on 15-40 cm long racemes, each with 20-30 flowers. Fruits are 3-5 x 0.6-0.8 cm, 30-40 seeded that are heart-shaped, 3 x 2 mm, shiny, mottled ochre and dark grey-green or brown. 

Read more about the Fabales order.
Read more about the Fabaceae family.

Distribution

Native to tropical Africa, it has become naturalised throughout the tropics.

Human Uses

The plant is grown as a ground cover and a green manure crop, especially in the inter-rows of rubber trees and coconut palms. Flowers are eaten as a vegetable in Cambodia, where the seeds are roasted and grounded for use as a sort of coffee beverage. The roots are sometimes chewed with betel nuts in Vietnam. In traditional medicine, the plant is used to treat urinary problems and fever, a poultice of the roots is applied to swelling of joints and an extract of the leaves is taken to expel intestinal worms.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

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