Crotalaria lugardiorum Bullock
Crotalaria karagwensis is an erect, annual plant, often with spreading, weakly ascending branches from the base, growing from 20 - 100cm tall[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use of its edible seed.
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 - ?Cameroon, Ethiopia, eastern DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania.
Grassland and woodland; also persisting on roadsides and in cultivated land, at elevations from 1,100 - 2,300 metres[
Annual and short-lived perennial plants in this genus generally grow best in a sunny position, succeeding in most 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[
Seed - cooked[
]. Considered to be edible in Kenya[
]. The oblong, club-shaped seedpod is around 25mm × 35mm × 5mm, containing 15 - 34 heart-shaped seeds 1.5 - 4mm in diameter[
]. Some caution needs to be employed - see notes above on toxicity[
Seed - sow in situ. Pre-soaking the seed for 12 hours in warm water can help to reduce germination time.
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