Crotalaria retusa

Botanical Name : Crotalaria retusa
Family : Fabaceae – Pea family
Genus : Crotalaria L. – rattlebox
Species: Crotalaria retusa L. – rattleweed
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision : Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Fabales

Common Names: Rattleweed, shak-shak, rattlebox,rattlepods, wedge-leaf.(The common name rattlepod or rattlebox is derived from the fact that the seeds become loose in the pod as they mature, and rattle when the pod is shaken. The name derives from the Greek, meaning “castanet”,which refers to the musical percussion instrument  and is the same root as the name for the rattlesnakes (Crotalus).) Bengali Name is Otoshi

Habitat :Crotalaria retusa is native to Africa, now it grow various places arround the world.(Some 600 or more species of Crotalaria are described worldwide, mostly from the tropics; at least 500 species are known from Africa.)Crotalaria spectabilis Roth was introduced to the US from India for green manure. As a legume that supports nitrogen fixing bacteria, it is considered a “soil builder.” However, it is also poisonous to cattle (as are many legumes), and has spread rapidly throughout the Southeastern United States where it is now considered an invasive species.

Description:
Crotalaria retusa is   an annual herbaceous plant growing up to 2 feet tall it is common in Surinam.  It produces bright yellow flowers that are borne on an upright spike which is presented promindantly above a mass of jade green leaves. For ornamental purposes, this plant is best grown in mass in either a flowerbed or as a border plant.The seeds become loose in the pod as they mature, and rattle when the pod is shaken.

 

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Edible Uses:
Flowers and leaves are both edible as vegetables due to their low alkaloid content and are purportedly sweet. Seeds are roasted and eaten in Vietnam.

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Medicinal Uses:
Occasionally used in folk medicine in tropical regions to treat stomach disorders and colic. The leaves and flowers are used in Grenada to make a cold-cure tea, where healers are said to favor parts of the plant that caterpillars are attracted.  It is used in homeopathic medicine.

Other Uses:
Some species of Crotalaria are grown as ornamentals.Besides being useful as an ornamental plant, Crotalaria retusa has an interesting characteristic that will probably interest kids. The pod-like fruit this plant produces, when mature and dry, becomes a rattlebox that can be shaken and heard.

Like other legumes, Crotalaria retusa can be grown as a green manure, where mature plants can be worked back into the soil to add nitrogen. It is also grown as a source of plant-derived fibre and dye.

This plant is also nematode-resistant and studies have found dried plant parts can be worked into the soil as a soil amendments to deter and reduce root galling by the root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita.

Crotalaria retusa is a butterfly host plant. According to the Butterfly Circle website, Crotalaria retusa is the food plant for the pea blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus). Unlike other butterfly caterpillars that chew up leaves, the first two instars of the pea blue bore into flower buds of this plant and consume the flower parts contained within. The larger 3rd and final instar caterpillars will move on to eat the developing seeds within seed pods. For more information on the pea blue butterfly you may click & see:
http://butterflycircle.blogspot.com/2009_09_12_archive.html

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.tropilab.com/crotalaria-ret.html
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CRRE4
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crotalaria
http://gardeningwithwilson.com/2010/01/15/crotalaria_retusa/
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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