Crotalaria gymnocalyx Baker
Crotalaria kilimandscharica Taub.
Crotalaria natalitia is an erect, perennial plant with more or less woody stems growing up to 2.5 metres tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, The leaves are sometimes sold in local markets. The plant is sometimes also grown as a green manure and also as an ornamental[
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[
East tropical Africa - Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, eastern DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, S. Africa
Forest edges, bushland, wooded or open grassland, roadsides, riverine forest, sometimes on cultivated ground, at elevations from sea level to 3,000 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Plants in this genus generally prefer a sunny position, succeeding in dry to moist, well-drained soils[
This species has 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[
Leaves - cooked and used as a vegetable[
]. The tender leaves are chopped, washed and cooked with pounded groundnuts or coconut milk and served with a staple such as ugali or rice[
]. The fresh leaves and flowers are sometimes cooked with potash, giving a mucilaginous product[
Tender leaves can be dried by being washed, then pounded and laid out to dry in the sun. The dried vegetable is soaked in hot water, then boiled and pounded groundnuts are added. The vegetable is then ready for eating with ugali or rice[
The bark from fresh roots is chewed, and the juice swallowed as a treatment for boils. After several days the boils ripen, can be cut and squeezed out[
The plant is sometimes used as a green manure[
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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