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2013.10.31.150923 Rattlepod (Crotalaria retusa) Chain of Craters Road Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hawaii.jpg
Crotalaria retusa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Crotalarieae[1][2]
Genus: Crotalaria

See text.

Crotalaria is a genus of herbaceous plants and woody shrubs in the Family Fabaceae (Subfamily Faboideae) commonly known as rattlepods. Some 600 or more species of Crotalaria are described worldwide, mostly from the tropics; at least 500 species are known from Africa. Some species of Crotalaria are grown as ornamentals. 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 κροταλον, meaning "castanet", and is the same root as the name for the rattlesnakes (Crotalus).

Crotalaria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Endoclita sericeus, Etiella zinckenella and Utetheisa ornatrix. The toxic alkaloids produced by some members of this genus are known to be incorporated by Utetheisia larvae and used to secure their defense from predators.[3]

Notable species[edit]

Alkaloid monocrotaline, a pyrrolizidine alkaloid, the main toxic principle of Crotalaria spectabilis, is used to induce experimental pulmonary hypertension in laboratory animals.[4][5] Larvae of the Ornate moth feed on the plant and re-purpose the poisonous compound as a defense, excreting it when they are threatened by potential predation.


There are a few species of Crotalaria that are presently cultivated for suitable traits. Crotalaria juncea, also known as sunn hemp, is currently grown throughout the tropics and subtropics[6] as a source of green manure, lightened fiber, and fodder. C. juncea is also being considered as a potential source of cellulosic ethanol for biofuel.[7]

List of species[edit]

Crotalaria comprises the following species: [8][9]

See also[edit]

  • Senna covesii, unrelated plant sometimes also called "rattlepod"


  1. ^ Boatwright JS, le Roux MM, Wink M, Morozova T, Van Wyk B-E. (2008). "Phylogenetic relationships of tribe Crotalarieae (Fabaceae) inferred from DNA sequences and morphology". Syst Bot 33 (4): 752–761. doi:10.1600/036364408786500271. JSTOR 40211942. 
  2. ^ Cardoso D, Pennington RT, de Queiroz LP, Boatwright JS, Van Wyk B-E, Wojciechowski MF, Lavin M. (2013). "Reconstructing the deep-branching relationships of the papilionoid legumes". S Afr J Bot 89: 58–75. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.05.001. 
  3. ^ Eisner T. (2003). For the Love of Insects. Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01827-3. 
  4. ^ Werchan PM, Summer WR, Gerdes AM, McDonough KH. (1989). "Right ventricular performance after monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension". Am J Physiol 256 (5, pt. 2): H1328–H1336. PMID 2524170. 
  5. ^ Kosanovic D, Kojonazarov B, Luitel H, Dahal BK, Sydykov A, Cornitescu T, Janssen W, Brandes RP, Davie N, Ghofrani HA, Weissmann N, Grimminger F, Seeger W, Schermuly RT. (2011). "Therapeutic efficacy of TBC3711 in monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension". Respir Res 12: 87. doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-87. PMC 3141422. PMID 21699729. 
  6. ^ Mannetje, L.'t. "Crotalaria juncea L.". FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ Morris, J. Bradley; Antonius, George F. (February 1, 2013). "Glucose, stem dry weight variation, principal components and cluster analysis for some agronomic traits among 16 regenerated Crotalaria juncea accessions for potential cellulosic ethanol.". Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B: Pesticides, Food Contaminants, and Agricultural Wastes 48 (3): 214–218. doi:10.1080/03601234.2013.730333. 
  8. ^ "ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Crotalaria". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  9. ^ USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Crotalaria". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  10. ^ Some sources treat Crotalaria lanata as a synonym of Crotalaria beddomeana.
  11. ^ Some sources treat Crotalaria lunata as a synonym of Crotalaria beddomeana.
  12. ^ Some sources treat Crotalaria mohlenbrockii as a synonym of Crotalaria martiana.
  13. ^ Some sources treat Crotalaria montana as a synonym of Crotalaria incana.
  14. ^ Some sources treat Crotalaria semperflorens as a synonym of Crotalaria verrucosa.
  15. ^ Some sources treat Crotalaria urbaniana as a synonym of Crotalaria ekmanii.

External links[edit]