Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Crotalaria laburnifolia L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1753) Species Plantarum 2: 715. Type: Habitat in Asia.

Common name

Bird Flower; Rattlepod


Flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1-2 m tall.


Compound leaf petiole about 2.5-6 cm long. Middle leaflet longer than the lateral leaflets. Leaflet blades about 1-10.5 x 0.4-5.5 cm, broadest at or below the middle. Leaflet stalks grooved on the upper surface. Stipules absent.


Inflorescences about 3-33 cm long. Flowers borne singly in the axils of persistent narrow, about 4 mm long, bracts. Calyx about 12-17 mm long, the lobes longer than the tube. Petals: standard yellow, often marked with red-brown lines; wings about 10-20 mm long; keel about 20-30 mm long. Stamens 10, dimorphic, five with dorsifixed anthers and five with basifixed anthers. Pollen orange. Staminal filaments fused to form a tube which is open on one side. Ovary stalked, ovules about 20-22. Style hairy towards the apex, stigma hairy.


Fruits cylindrical, stalked, about 30-45 x 8-10 mm, calyx persistent at the base. Seeds, about 10-20 seeds per pod, rattle when the pod is shaken. Seeds about 3-7 x 2-4 mm, reniform. Radicle about 4-5 mm long, straight or slightly curved, running along the edge of the cotyledons.


Cotyledons about 17-22 x 11-15 mm, petiole short, about 1 mm long. First pair of leaves trifoliolate. At the tenth leaf stage: leaflet blades elliptic to ovate, about 35-40 x 20-25 mm, leaflet stalks short, about 1-2 mm long. Lateral veins about 7 or 8 pairs, forming loops inside the blade margins. Seed germination time 5 to 7 days.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from eastern Africa and SE Asia, now naturalised in WA, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 400 m. Often grows in open forest but also found in vine thickets and monsoon forest.

Natural History & Notes

This species has been suspected of causing walkabout disease in horses but it is now believed that this species is not toxic to stock; not toxic to rats in laboratory tests. Hacker (1990).

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