Crotalaria pallida var. obovata (FABACEAE) Streaked Rattlepod

Weeds to Whack

A short-lived herbaceous plant with upright stems to 2 m, native to Africa, India, China and south-eastern Asia, naturalised in coastal districts of south-eastern Queensland and northern New South Wales, along creek lines especially those that were in farmland, roadsides, railway lines, disturbed sites, waste areas, parks and gardens. It has ribbed, hairy stems, alternate, trifoliate leaves with short close-lying (appressed) hairs. Leaf stalks (petioles) are 25-65 mm long with tiny stipules at the bases of the leaf stalks, often lost. Leaflets are more or less oval with entire margins and rounded or notched tips. Pea-shaped rusty-red, purplish or brownish veined flowers occur in elongated clusters at the top of the plant in terminal racemes mainly from late spring through to autumn.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Pods

Fruits are pods, 30-45 mm long, green when young, pale brown as they mature with 20-55 smooth seeds. The name pallida refers to the relatively pale pods. The common name ‘streaked’ refers to the red streaks on the flowers. Streaked Rattlepod is a minor environmental weed, distinguished from other rattlepods by being generally larger, with broader leaflets, longer, paler pods, and very obviously red-streaked flowers.Lance-leaved rattlepod Crotalaria lanceolata subsp. lanceolata has very narrow leaflets and its pods are almost black when mature. Gambia pea Crotalaria goreensis is somewhat smaller overall, with smaller leaflets and with much smaller pods, turning brown or black when mature. Streaked Rattlepod is not declared under any state or local government legislation in the region but should be managed in sensitive bushland and conservation areas.
Photo: Robert Whyte