Plants of
South Australia
Crotalaria smithiana
Leguminosae
Yellow Rattle-pod
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Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
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Oodnadatta
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2.

Etymology

Crotalaria from the Greek 'crotalon' meaning a rattle, castanet, referring to the sound the dried seed pods make when shaken.

Distribution and status

Found in the north-east corner of South Australia growing on sand on hills and creek beds and banks. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Western Australia. Uncommon in New South Wales. Common in the other States.
Herbarium region: Lake Eyre
NRM region: South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

A soft-wooded shrub with a strong tap root; at first an erect stem, later several procumbent or ascending branches to 0.5 m long, grey or bluish-green with a spreading retrorse pilose indumentum. Leaflet elliptic to obovate, often broad to 50 mm long and 30 mm wide; densely tomentose on both sides; stipules narrow-triangular, pubescent. Flower-spike ascending or erect, terminal on the branches,;3-14 cm long with up to 40 yellow, often reddish at the centre pea-flowers. Flowering between May and November. Fruits are reddish-brown obovate-oblong pod to 20 mm long and 9 mm wide. Seeds are orange reniform seed to 4.5 mm long and 3 mm wide with a smooth surface. Seed embryo type is bent.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between September and December. Collect mature pods that are plump, turning reddish-brown and contain hard seeds. Place the pods in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then use a rubber bung to rub the pods or break the pods open with your fingers to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 90%. This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat).

Seeds stored:
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LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA 
MSB
1,770 (34 g)
1,800 (35 g)
60+26-Sep-2007MJT86
Lake Eyre
19-Sep-200890%-18°C
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.