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Pueraria phaseoloides (PROSEA)

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<big>''[[Pueraria phaseoloides]]'' (Roxb.) Benth.</big>
:Protologue: Journ. Linn. Soc. 9: 125 (1865).
== Vernacular names ==
*Tropical kudzu, puero (Australia) (En). *Kudzu tropical, puero (Fr)
*Indonesia: kacang ruji, krandang (Javanese), fuo banga (Ternate)
*Malaysia: kacang hijau hutan, tampong urat
*Philippines: singkamasaso (Tagalog), bahay (Bikol), vaay (Ivatan). *Burma (Myanmar): pe ying pin
*Laos: pièd, s'üak pièd
*Thailand: thua-sianpa (central)
== Uses ==
Tropical kudzu is especially important as a component of grazed and ungrazed cover crop mixtures in rubber, oil-palm and coconut plantations in South-East Asia, Africa and tropical America. In East Africa, it is grown as a cover crop in plantations of sisal ( ''Agave sisalana'' Perrine). In South-East Asia, tropical America and Australia it is also used as a pasture legume. Its ability to smother weeds makes it a useful pioneer legume often grown in combination with other more permanent species. It is planted on sloping sites to control soil erosion and in rotation with annual crops as a green manure.
The tuberous roots are edible. Strong fibres from the stem are used for rope making. In Malesia, the plant is used in traditional medicine to cure boils and ulcers.
== Description ==
*Deep-rooting perennial herb with climbing or twining, hairy stems. Roots subtuberous. Main stems about 6 mm in diameter, extending 4.5-10 m, rooting at nodes if in contact with moist soil, lateral stems branching from nodes; young shoots densely covered with brown hairs. *Leaves large, trifoliolate; stipules triangular to ovate, 4-11 mm × 2-3 mm, pubescent; petiole 3-11 cm long, hairy; stipels lanceolate to setaceous, 3-7 mm long; petiolule 2-5 mm long; top leaflet symmetrical, triangular or ovate, 2-20 cm × 2-16 cm, thin, base broadly cuneate or subrhomboidal and very shallowly lobed, apex acuminate, lateral leaflets oblique, (4-)6-7(-14) cm × (3-)6-7(-12) cm, thinly hairy on upper surface, greyish-green and densely pubescent on lower surface. *Inflorescence an axillary, unbranched raceme, 10-46 cm long, pubescent; peduncle about 13 cm long; bracts 2-5 mm long, pubescent; flowers .*Flowers 10-23 mm long, mauve to deep purple, borne in pairs; bracteoles lanceolate, 1-3 mm long; pedicel 2-6 mm long; calyx campanulate, 6 mm long, hairy, upper teeth broad, lateral ones triangular, the lower lanceolate and all terminating in a bristle; standard orbicular, 1-2.5 cm in diameter, spurred, greenish on outside and white on the inner side with a mauve violet central blotch; stamens 10, diadelphous. *Fruit a straight or slightly curved, terete or compressed cylindrical pod, 4-12.5 cm × 3-5 mm, thinly clothed with stiff appressed hairs, black when mature, 10-20-seeded. *Seed cylindrical to cubic with rounded corners, about 3 mm × 2 mm, brown to brownish-black.
== Growth and development ==
Seedling growth of tropical kudzu is only moderately vigorous during the first 3-4 months. Seedling vigour is superior to other cover crops such as centro ( ''Centrosema pubescens'' Benth.) and calopo ( ''Calopogonium mucunoides'' Desv.). Once established, it is very vigorous and quickly smothers weeds. Unless regularly controlled, it tends to climb the stems of trees and to get entangled in the fronds of young palms. In Malaysia, it reaches 60-70% cover after about 4 months and 90-100% after 8 months. It can form a tangled mat of vegetation 60-75 cm deep. Flowering in Java is from May to October.
== Other botanical information ==
Three botanical varieties are distinguished within ''P. phaseoloides'' :
*var. ''javanica'' (Benth.) Baker (synonym: ''Pueraria javanica'' (Benth.) Benth.): leaflets mostly entire, rarely somewhat lobed; flowers 15-23 mm long; bracts and calyx pubescent, lateral calyx lobes obtuse, lower calyx lobe acute; fruit 7-11 cm × 4-5 mm. Worldwide it is the most common variety, also introduced into tropical Africa and America. Its most probable origin is in Java and Peninsular Malaysia.
*var. ''phaseoloides'' : leaflets entire, lobed or sinuate; flowers 7-15 mm long; bracts and calyx short-pubescent, lateral calyx lobes acute, lower calyx lobe acuminate-lanceolate; fruit 5-9 cm × 3-4 mm. It occurs mainly in South and South-East Asia. Its most probable origin is in southeastern China.
*var. ''subspicata'' (Benth.) van der Maesen (synonym: ''Pueraria subspicata'' (Benth.) Benth.): leaflets large, entire to deeply lobed; flowers 15-23 mm long; bracts and calyx densely long-pubescent, lateral calyx lobes acute, lower calyx lobe lanceolate-subulate; fruit 7-12.5 cm × 4-5 mm. It occurs mainly in India, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand. Its most probable origin is in north-eastern India.
Tropical kudzu is best suited to the humid lowland tropics up to 1000 m altitude with an annual rainfall in excess of 1500 mm. In an experiment under controlled conditions, an optimum temperature of 32/24 °C (day/night) was found and dry matter yields were reduced by 35% with a change in temperature regime to 26/15 °C. Few reports are available on photoperiod responses. In Puerto Rico (latitude 18°N), flowering and seed set occur in the short daylength period from January to March, suggesting that it may be a short-day plant. In Papua New Guinea and Africa, it only sets seed under dry conditions.
In comparison with other legume species tropical kudzu has been ranked highly as a shade-tolerant plant. When grown under 50% shade in coconut plantations in the Solomon Islands it was the most productive legume and it even suppressed the accompanying grasses. This characteristic makes it suitable in integrated livestock/plantation production systems. Under a regime of more than 50% shade, tropical kudzu is still comparatively productive, but in mixtures it gives way to other species like centro ( ''Centrosema pubescens'' ) or desmodium ( ''Desmodium heterocarpon'' (L.) DC. ssp. ''ovalifolium'' (Prain) Ohashi).
Tropical kudzu is tolerant of very wet and waterlogged sites. It prefers heavy soils and is well adapted to acid soils. It is particularly susceptible to Mg and S deficiencies and has moderate to low Ca and P requirements, but it responds to fertilizer application. On poor oxisols and ultisols ''P. phaseoloides'' also requires K and Mg fertilizer. It is not tolerant of salinity.
Tropical kudzu is usually established from seed. Having a high proportion of hard seed, germination can be increased by hot water, acid or mechanical scarification. Commercially available seed is often scarified by abrading the seed-coat in a hexagonal drum, lined with sandpaper, rotating at 7.5 rpm for 24 hours.
Tropical kudzu usually nodulates with native cowpea rhizobia but inoculation with an appropriate strain of ''Bradyrhizobium'' , such as RRIM 768 in Malaysia, is recommended for new areas. Seed is usually broadcast or drilled in rows 1 m apart. It can also be established by oversowing into an existing pasture if the pasture is disked or burnt beforehand. When seed is scarce, tropical kudzu can be propagated vegetatively, one recommendation being to plant two rooted cuttings, 0.7-1 m long, at each point on a 1-2 m grid. In Africa, a tropical kudzu cover can sometimes be established by selectively weeding the natural regrowth after land clearance. Standard seed mixtures for cover crop contain a 5:4:1 ratio of calopo, centro and tropical kudzu or a 4:1 mixture of centro and tropical kudzu. Seeding rates for these mixtures are 5-10 kg/ha in the inter-row areas between rubber or oil-palm trees.
== Husbandry ==
== Literature ==
* Chin, S.L., 1977. Leguminous cover crops for rubber smallholdings. Planters' Bulletin 150: 83-97.
== Authors ==
*R.A. Halim
[[Category:Auxiliary plants (PROSEA)]]
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