Crotalaria L.


Greek krotalon — castanet, referring to the dry seed pods that rattle when shaken

Annual or perennial herbs and shrubs. Leaves alternate, simple or with 3-5 digitate leaflets; stipules, when present, leafy and narrow. Flowers in axillary or terminal clusters. Petals yellow or green, occasionally blue or white, often with markings. Stamens 10, united into a tube. Fruit spherical to oblong, inflated.

Grown mainly for the attractive foliage and flowers. Many species are reported as toxic to stock.

About 650 species, tropical and subtropical, mostly southern hemisphere, with most species from Africa and Madagascar and 6 species endemic to Australia.


Used for fodder (C. micans and C. spectabilis), fibre, and cigarette paper (notably C. juncea).

Leaves simple or digitate; pods inflated.

Verdoorn (1928), Lee (1978), Polhill (1982).

Source: Spencer, R. (2002). Fabaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Fabales
family       Fabaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Crotalaria capensis Jacq.