Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Crotalaria spectabilis
(showy rattlepod)

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Datasheet

Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Crotalaria spectabilis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • showy rattlepod
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. spectabilis is native to tropical Asia and has been widely introduced in many tropical countries around the world. It has escaped from cultivation and can now be found naturalized principally in open and dis...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.
TitleHabit
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.
HabitCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); invasive habit, showing flowers, foliage and seedpods. USA. October 2009.
TitleHabit
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); invasive habit, showing flowers, foliage and seedpods. USA. October 2009.
Copyright©Karan A. Rawlins/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); invasive habit, showing flowers, foliage and seedpods. USA. October 2009.
HabitCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); invasive habit, showing flowers, foliage and seedpods. USA. October 2009.©Karan A. Rawlins/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. Decembe 2009.
TitleFlowers and leaves
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. Decembe 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. Decembe 2009.
Flowers and leavesCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. Decembe 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.
TitleInflorescence
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.
InflorescenceCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); flowers and leaves. India. December 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. USA.
TitleFlowers
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. USA.
Copyright©John D. Byrd/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. USA.
FlowersCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. USA.©John D. Byrd/Mississippi State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. India. December 2008.
TitleFlowers
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. India. December 2008.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. India. December 2008.
FlowersCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of flowers. India. December 2008.©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. India. December 2009.
TitleSeedpods
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. India. December 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. India. December 2009.
SeedpodsCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. India. December 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. USA
TitleSeedpods
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. USA
Copyright©Wendy VanDyk Evans/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. USA
SeedpodsCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); seedpods. USA©Wendy VanDyk Evans/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of seedpods. USA.
TitleSeedpodS
CaptionCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of seedpods. USA.
Copyright©Johnny N. Dell/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Crotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of seedpods. USA.
SeedpodSCrotalaria spectabilis (showy rattlepod); close view of seedpods. USA.©Johnny N. Dell/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Crotalaria spectabilis Roth.

Preferred Common Name

  • showy rattlepod

Other Scientific Names

  • Crotalaria altipes Raf.
  • Crotalaria cuneifolia (Forssk.) Schrank
  • Crotalaria leschenaultii DC.
  • Crotalaria macrophylla Wienmann
  • Crotalaria retzii Hitchc.
  • Crotalaria sericea RETZ.
  • Crotalaria spectabilis subsp. spectabilis

International Common Names

  • English: cat's bell; rattlebox; rattlepod; showy crotalaria; showy rattlebox; silent rattlepod
  • French: crotalaire remarquable
  • Chinese: da tuo ye zhu shi dou

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: chicharra ; maromera; maruga
  • Dominican Republic: maraquita
  • Germany: Ansehliche Klapperhuelse
  • India: dhundhunia; jhunjhunia; rattle box; sani; showy crotalaria; sonnette; tcha-tcha
  • Thailand: mahing men
  • USA: showy rattlebox

EPPO code

  • CVTSP (Crotalaria spectabilis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. spectabilis is native to tropical Asia and has been widely introduced in many tropical countries around the world. It has escaped from cultivation and can now be found naturalized principally in open and disturbed sites. This species is a serious weed in agricultural land and natural habitats (Randall, 2012). The potential invasiveness of C. spectabilis is very high mainly because this species spreads predominantly as a contaminant in agricultural equipment, crop seeds, forages and hay (Maddox et al., 2011). In the United States, it is listed as a noxious weed in many Mid-South states (e.g., Arkansas), and it has spread rapidly throughout the Southeastern states where it is now considered an invasive species (Maddox et al., 2011; USDA-NRCS, 2015). C. spectabilis is also listed as invasive in Cuba, Australia, New Caledonia and many other islands in the Pacific Ocean (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2015; Weeds of Australia, 2015).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Crotalaria
  •                                     Species: Crotalaria spectabilis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Fabaceae is one of the most diverse families of flowering plants. Species in the subfamiliy Papilionoideae (also known as Faboideae) are trees, shrubs, and herbs that may be easily recognized by their classical pea-shaped flowers and the frequent occurrence of root nodulation (Stevens, 2012).

The genus Crotalaria includes around 720 species especially distributed in the Southern Hemisphere throughout tropical regions and extending into the subtropics (Roux et al., 2013; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). The name Crotalaria derives from the Greek krotalos for rattle, refering to the sound dried pods make when shaken: the common name for the genus, rattlebox or rattlepod, also refers to the rattling of seeds in the pods after drying.

 A recent molecular systematic study based on nuclear internal transcribed spacer and the plastid markers matK, psbA-trnH and rbcLa showed that Crotalaria is monophyletic (Roux et al., 2013). Crotalaria species are easily recognized by the following combination of characters (Wyk, 2005):

  • rostrate keel

  • highly inflated fruit

  • hairy style

  • 5 + 5 anther configuration

  • paired callosities on the standard petal

  • presence of macrocyclic pyrrolizidine alkaloids

Description

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C. spectabilis is an erect herb 0.6-1.5 m tall. Branches terete, glabrous. Stipules ovate-triangular, approximately 1 cm. Leaves simple; petiole 2-8 mm; leaf blade oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic, 7-15 × 2-5 cm, thin, abaxially appressed silky pubescent, adaxially glabrous, base broadly cuneate, apex obtuse and mucronate. Racemes terminal, 20-30-flowered; bracts ovate-triangular, 7-10 mm. Pedicel 1-1.5 cm; bracteoles inserted at or apical to middle of pedicel, linear, approximately 1 mm. Calyx 2-lipped, 1.2-1.5 cm, glabrous; lobes broadly lanceolate-triangular, longer than tube. Corolla pale yellow; standard veined purplish red, suborbicular to oblong, 1-2 cm, base with 2 appendages, apex obtuse to retuse; wings obovate, approximately 2 cm; keel rounded about middle, with a fairly short and slightly incurved twisted beak beyond calyx. Legume broadly oblong, 2.5-3 × 1.5-2 cm, 20-30-seeded, shortly stipitate, glabrous. Seeds smooth, dark brown, 4.5 mm long (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015).

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Biennial
Herbaceous
Seed propagated
Shrub

Distribution

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C. spectabilis is native to tropical Asia (ILDIS, 2015; USDA-ARS, 2015). It is also cultivated and naturalized throughout the tropics (see Distribution Table for details).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
ChinaPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-AnhuiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-FujianPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangdongPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-GuangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HunanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-JiangsuPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-JiangxiPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-YunnanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
IndiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-BiharPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-DelhiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-GoaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-GujaratPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-HaryanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Himachal PradeshPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-KarnatakaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-KeralaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Madhya PradeshPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-MaharashtraPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-ManipurPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-OdishaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-RajasthanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-SikkimPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-TripuraPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
-West BengalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
MalaysiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
MyanmarPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
PakistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015
PhilippinesPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
TaiwanPresentNativeFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
ThailandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2015

Africa

MadagascarPresentIntroducedPolhill, 1982
MalawiPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
MozambiquePresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015
RéunionPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedPROTA, 2015

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
USA
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2015Noxious weed
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Florida Natural Areas Inventory, 2014
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Wagner et al., 1999
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-OklahomaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-TennesseePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-TexasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2015Weed

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentIntroducedZamora, 2010
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedZamora, 2010
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
PanamaPresentIntroducedCorrea et al., 2004
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
SabaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012

South America

BrazilPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-AmazonasPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-BahiaPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-CearaPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-MaranhaoPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-ParaPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-ParanaPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-RoraimaPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedFlores, 2015Naturalized
ColombiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015
PeruPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2015

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Weeds of Australia, 2015
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Weeds of Australia, 2015
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Weeds of Australia, 2015
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Florence et al., 2013
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroduced Invasive Herrera et al., 2010
NauruPresentIntroduced Invasive Thaman et al., 1994
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive MacKee, 1994
PalauPresentIntroduced Invasive Space et al., 2009
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2015
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015
TongaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2015

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. spectabilis has been widely introduced throughout the tropics to be used as fodder, green manure, for soil conservation, and as a soil improver and ornamental. However, the use of this species has been abandoned because of the toxic alkaloids that it contains (Francis, 2004). In the United States, it was introduced from the Indo-Malaysian area (Maddox et al., 2011). In the West Indies, C. spectabilis appears in herbarium collections made in 1937 in Dominica, in 1939 in Martinique, and in Cuba in 1950 (US National Herbarium).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of C. spectabilis is high. This species has been actively introduced to be used as green manure, forage and ground cover, and consequently the risk of new introductions as well as the probability of escape from cultivation is high, principally in disturbed areas (Wagner et al., 1999; Maddox et al., 2011; USDA-NRCS, 2015).

Habitat

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C. spectabilis grows as a weed in crops, pastures, and roadsides. It prefers sites that are open and disturbed, but as a legume these sites tend to be poor nutritionally. It is often found on roadside or pasture slopes that may be more or less eroded (Maddox et al., 2011). In China, it occurs in open locations along forest margins and as a weed in cultivated fields, from sea level up to 1500 m altitude (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). In the West Indies and Florida, it can be found growing at the edge of mangroves (Liogier, 1988). It is also common along stream banks in deciduous forests in India (Francis, 2004).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Mangroves Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Mangroves Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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C. spectabilis is a common weed in maize and soyabean plantations in the United States. It is also a weed in active and abandoned pastures (Maddox et al., 2011).

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for C. spectabilis is 2n = 16 (Almada, 2006).

Reproductive Biology

Flowers of C. spectabilis are visited by bees and other insects. As in other Crotalaria species, extensive cross-pollination occurs and self-pollination only takes place after the stigmatic surface is stimulated by insects or other mechanism (Francis, 2004; Maddox et al., 2011; PROTA, 2015).

Physiology and Phenology

C. spectabilis is an annual fast-growing legume. It may reach heights of about 1 metre by one year old. In Puerto Rico, it behaves as a biennial and plants appear to live 2 or 3 years (Francis, 2004).

In China, C. spectabilis has been recorded flowering from August to October and fruiting from October to December (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). In India, it flowers between November and January and fruits are produced from December to February. In the Americas, it has been recorded blooming all year long in Florida, and flowering in April and May and fruiting in October in Nicaragua (Francis, 2004).

Associations

C. spectabilis has root nodules that support nitrogen fixing bacteria and therefore it is often used as a green manure crop, particularly where rotation for control of nematodes is important (Francis, 2004).

Environmental Requirements

C. spectabilis principally grows in areas from sea level up to 1500 m altitude with annual rainfall of 900-2800 mm and a mean annual temperature of 12-28°C (Niyomdham, 1997). In Florida and Puerto Rico, it grows on coastal sands and limestone rubble in areas receiving about 1650 mm of annual precipitation (Francis, 2004). This species has the capability to thrive on a wide range of soils, including heavy soils, with pH ranging from 4.8 to 8.0 (Niyomdham, 1997). It grows well in alkaline soils and at least tolerates moderate soil salinity. It is also drought-tolerant (Francis, 2004; Maddox et al., 2011; PROTA, 2015).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 12 28

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall9002800mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • saline
  • shallow

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In Puerto Rico, plants of C. spectabilis are often parasitized by Cuscuta species (Francis, 2004).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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C. spectabilis spreads by seeds. Seeds are primarily dispersed as a contaminant of soil, agricultural equipment, crop seeds and hay (Maddox et al., 2011). The species is intentionally planted in cultivated lands where is used as a green manure and for erosion control (Niyomdham, 1997).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionContaminant in crop seeds Yes Yes Maddox et al., 2011
DisturbanceWeed on disturbed sites and along roadsides Yes Yes Francis, 2004
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSeeds as contaminant in crop seeds, forage, hay and agricultural equipment Yes Yes Maddox et al., 2011
ForageContaminant in forage and hay Yes Yes Maddox et al., 2011
Habitat restoration and improvementOften planted for erosion control and soil improvement Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2015

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds as contaminant in crop seeds, forage, hay and agricultural equipment Yes Yes Maddox et al., 2011
Machinery and equipmentSeeds as contaminant in agricultural equipment Yes Yes Maddox et al., 2011
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds as contaminant in soil Yes Yes Maddox et al., 2011
Land vehiclesSeeds as contaminant in agricultural equipment Yes Yes Maddox et al., 2011

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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Like other Crotalaria species, C. spectabilis contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are present in greatest quantity in the seeds. Therefore, C. spectabilis can be poisonous to all livestock including poultry (chickens, turkeys and quail), horses, goats and dogs, particularly when seeds are consumed (Francis, 2004; Maddox et al., 2011). This species is also a weed negatively impacting maize and soyabean plantations and pastures (Niyomdham, 1997; Francis, 2004; Maddox et al., 2011).

Environmental Impact

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C. spectabilis has escaped from cultivation and naturalized in disturbed areas, roadsides, waste ground, grasslands, disturbed forests, and mangrove edges (Liogier, 1988; Wagner et al., 1999; Francis, 2004; Maddox et al., 2011). Once naturalized,this species grows as a weed and may become invasive, displacing native vegetation (ILDIS, 2015; USDA-NRCS, 2015). As with many other Crotalaria species, C. spectabilis is a nitrogen-fixing species and consequently it has the capacity to alter chemical soil conditions, nutrient cycling and trophic levels in invaded ecosystems, with negative effects on native vegetation principally in nutrient-poor ecosystems that did not previously contain nitrogen-fixing residents (Levine et al., 2003).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Loss of medicinal resources
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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C. spectabilis is used as a green manure, for erosion control and for soil improvement in the tropics and in the USA. It serves as a nurse species during early reforestation. Its use as forage and fodder has ceased because of its toxicity. It is also planted as an ornamental (Niyomdham, 1997). This species is also used in Asian traditional medicine. Extracts of the whole plant are used to treat impetigo and scabies, as an antiseptic for cuts, and to treat intestinal worms (Parrotta 2001; Francis, 2004).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil improvement

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora

Materials

  • Green manure
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Propagation material

Prevention and Control

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Movement Control

Small patches of C. spectabilis can be removed by hand, but it could be labour intensive. Plants should be removed prior to fruit ripening to avoid seed dispersal. In pastures, trimming can be an effective method of weed management to minimize exposure of grazing animals to plants that are toxic. Repeat as necessary to minimize likelihood of consumption by livestock and seed production. Care should be taken to prevent contamination of forages, hay or silage. In grain crops, such as maize or soyabean, care should be taken to avoid contamination of harvested grains with C. spectabilis seed. Sanitation should be used to prevent the movement of seed on tillage or harvest equipment from one field to other fields (Maddox et al., 2011).

Chemical Control

The herbicides suggested for controlling C. spectabilis are diuron, dicamba, hexazinone, triclopyr, flumioxazin, paraquat, glyphosate, and 2,4-D. These herbicides have been used with positive results in pastures and cultivated areas (Maddox et al., 2011).

References

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Links to Websites

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International Legume Database & Information Servicewww.ildis.org

Contributors

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03/05/16 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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