Crotalaria alata (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Crotalaria alata Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don

Family: Leguminosae - Papilionoideae

Vernacular names

  • Malaysia: kacang hantu darat
  • Laos: hingx ma:z, hingx ha:y (Louang Prabang)
  • Thailand: hingmen noi, hinghoi (northern)
  • Vietnam: drieo-atau (southern).


From Nepal and southern China throughout South-East Asia to New Guinea. Introduced and widely spread in Africa; occasionally cultivated elsewhere.


A good green manure and cover crop, suitable as a mulch. It has been planted in contour hedges and has been reported as suitable for fodder, but in Queensland it is considered poisonous for cattle. Monocrotaline in the seeds may cause death in poultry.


  • Suberect annual, up to 1 m tall. Branches ascending, with fine, long, spreading hairs.
  • Leaves simple, elliptical to oblong, 4-9 cm × 1-3 cm, irregularly hairy on both sides; petiole 1-4 mm long; stipules continuing down the stem as a wing, 2-5 mm wide, apex hooked.
  • Inflorescence a terminal or axillary raceme, 5-15 cm long, 4-12-flowered; bracts 4-8 mm long.
  • Calyx 2-lipped, 9-14 mm long, densely pubescent; corolla 9-14 mm long; standard elliptical-obovate, pale yellow, subglabrous; wings and keel about 8-10 mm long.
  • Pod subcylindrical, 4-5 cm × 0.9-1.2 cm, glabrous, stipe 8-10 mm long.
  • Seeds many, obliquely heart-shaped, 3-3.5 mm long, brown, smooth.

C. alata occurs in pronounced monsoon areas, often as a weed, near the sea coast on sandy soils, also along rivers on rocky and peaty soils, up to 1500 m altitude. It is tolerant of fire and shade and deep-rooting.

Selected sources

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. 2nd Edition. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2444 pp.
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa (various editors), 1952-. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom & A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Flore du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viêt-nam [Flora of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam] (various editors), 1960-. Volume 1-. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Laboratoire de Phanérogamie, Paris, France.
  • Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesië [The useful plants of Indonesia]. 3rd Edition. 2 volumes. W. van Hoeve, the Hague, the Netherlands/Bandung, Indonesia. 261, 1450 pp.
  • Mansfeld, R., 1986. Verzeichnis landwirtschaflicher und gärtnerischer Kulturpflanzen (ohne Zierpflanzen) [Register of cultivated agricultural and horticultural plants (without ornamentals)]. Schultze-Motel, J. et al., editors 2nd edition, 4 volumes. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 1998 pp.
  • Polhill, R.M., 1982. Crotalaria in Africa and Madagascar. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 389 pp.
  • Verdcourt, B., 1979. A manual of New Guinea legumes. Botany Bulletin No 11. Office of Forests, Division of Botany, Lae, Papua New Guinea. 645 pp.


  • M.S.M. Sosef & L.J.G. van der Maesen