Wednesday, November 21, 2012


  I took these picture in late August. These Crotalaria plants were growing by the roadside, in the ditch and on an embankment. They had spread there from adjacent recently cut pine plantings. Several years ago when the pines near my house were cut Crotalaria grew there for a couple years. Aesthetically they are pleasing at least to me. I like their bright yellow color and the seed pods really intrigue me. The seeds pods are light green with a maroon stripe down the seam and the pods are arranged in a spiral. They dry to a brownish black color. I have harvested and dried the pods to add to dried arrangements.The seed rattle in the pod after drying and its common name, rattlebox is derived from this.
  Crotalaria is an annual and flowers in response to shortening days. The seed pods are fairly large, about two inches long, but the seed contained in it are very small and kidney shaped.
  This is probably Crotalaria juncea and its country of origin is India. It is a non-wood fiber source, used in paper making. and is known by another common name sunn hemp. It is a good green manure crop as it is a legume , requiring little to no added nitrogen, but instead putting nitrogen back in the soil.It can even be grown on marginal soils. It is not susceptible to root knot nematodes, and can be planted as a crop to reduce root knot nematodes in the soil. Some species are useful as stock feed, but C. juncea is toxic to horses and pigs. In some places it is considered a noxious weed.

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