Crotalaria spinosa aculeata (De Wild.) Baker f.
Crotalaria spinosa pubescens Benth.
Crotalaria aculeata is an erect, spiny short-lived shrub, wiry to bushy, growing 30 - 150cm tall, occasionally reaching 300cm[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine.
No specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, but many members of this genus are known to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, the most potent of which in this genus are monocrotaline, retrorsine and retronecine[
]. These alkaloids have a cumulative effect upon the body and, unless concentrations in a plant are high, occasional consumption is generally completely safe. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are derived from amino acids including ornithine. Many of these alkaloids have pronounced hepatic toxicity, but the lungs and other organs may be affected as well. Mutagenic and carcinogenic activities of pyrrolizidine alkaloids have also been reported[
Tropical Africa - Sudan, DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Madagascar
Open, dry disturbed places in grassland and pastures, on mountain slopes and roadsides, seasonally damp and disturbed places, steep slopes and wet soil on lake shores; at low to medium elevations[
Plants in this genus generally prefer a sunny position, succeeding in dry to moist, well-drained soils[
We have no specific report for this species, but most species in this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
The plant is used in the treatment of malaria[
Seed - stored seed has a hard seedcoat and can benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination[
]. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.
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