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Centrosema brasilianum

Centrosema brasilianum
Centrosema brasilianum. Photo copyright ©1997 by Martin Dančák

Morphological description. Centrosema brasilianum is commonly described as a prostrate-trailing to twining, perennial, herbaceous legume. However, some erect and semi-erect forms were identified. Similarly, the ability to form adventitious roots on trailing stems varies among studies. Leaves are trifoliolate, leaflets elliptical-oblong to lanceolate, sometimes ovate, 3.3-6.6 cm long, 1.5-3.6 cm wide. Flowers usually in racemes of 2-5 flowers, sometimes solitary. Bracteoles glabrous or pubescent, 3-13 mm long, 12-17 mm long and 5-10 mm wide, ovate and flat or cupped. Peduncles in leaf axils, 4-30 mm long. Papilionate flower, usually violet, violet-blue or red-lilac, in rare cases also white or purple. Variation in colour intensity within one accession can occur, suggesting some degree of outcrossing. Time from sowing to flowering from

Scientific name. Centrosema brasilianum (L.) Benth.

e to: Basic passport data of accessions can be accessed on the internet (http://singer.cgiar.org/). C. brasilianum has a wide natural distribution in the tropics of South America, with a latitude range of 23°S-12°N. It is found most frequently in subhumid vegetation zones - such as semi-evergreen seasonal forest, deciduous forest and savannah - mainly in northeast Brazil and Venezuela; some accessions were collected in the 'caatinga', the xerophytic vegetation form typical of very dry locations in northeastern Brazil. It is rarely found in rainforest margin areas. C. brasilianum is a true lowland species, with accessions collected at altitudes of 50-300 m above sea level (asl); few accessions originate from higher altitudes (up to 800 m asl , mostly in northeast Brazil).

Uses/applications. C. brasilianum has been evaluated extensively, mostly under cutting, in a wide range of environments in Australia, Africa and South America. Evaluations under cutting identified C. brasilianum as a promising species for the semi-arid to dry-subhumid environments of northern Australia, West Africa and South America, with tolerance to acid soils with high levels of aluminium. Persistence under grazing depends on pasture management, with periodic regeneration through seeds seen as the main mechanism for persistence. Such regeneration is favoured by the free seeding habit of this species. In long-term (11 years) grazing studies in northern Australia, only a few accessions of C. brasilianum persisted under grazing, among them cv. Oolloo. 

Centrosema brasilianum
Centrosema brasilianum. Photo copyright © by Arthur Cameron, DBIRD

Ecology

Soil requirements. Native habitat: well drained, acid to very acid (pH 4.1-6.3), of medium to low fertility and of sandy to loamy texture, tolerance to high levels of aluminium. CIAT 5234 has shown some adaptation to less well-drained soils in the flooded savannas of the Pantanal of Brazil.

Moisture. A particular characteristic of C. brasilianum is its high tolerance to drought, with the ability to retain green leaves over extended (>5-8 months) dry seasons. Osmotic and stomatal regulations are the main processes to control water loss. However, as the tolerance to leaf water deficits is lower than for other Centrosema spp. and leaf morphology does not indicate adaptation to drought, drought tolerance of C. brasilianum is attributed to its deep rooting system (taproot).

Temperature. Warm season plant. In northeast Argentina, the species is less affected by frost than Centrosema macrocarpum .

Light. No information available. [Research (PHD dissertation) of Heath James Addison indicated that Centrosema brasilianum is shade tolerant in dry tropics (see separate article in this site).]

Reproductive development. In the Venezuelan savannas, flowering initiated 67-92 days after planting, with maximum flowering 104-138 days after planting. A wide range of time to flowering was also observed in the savannas of northern Nigeria.

Defoliation. Good tolerance to grazing and cutting.

Fire. Some tolerance to fire. 

Soil requirements. Native habitat: well drained, acid to very acid (pH 4.1-6.3), of medium to low fertility and of sandy to loamy texture, tolerance to high levels of aluminium. CIAT 5234 has shown some adaptation to less well-drained soils in the flooded savannas of the Pantanal of Brazil.

Moisture. A particular characteristic of C. brasilianum is its high tolerance to drought, with the ability to retain green leaves over extended (>5-8 months) dry seasons. Osmotic and stomatal regulations are the main processes to control water loss. However, as the tolerance to leaf water deficits is lower than for other Centrosema spp. and leaf morphology does not indicate adaptation to drought, drought tolerance of C. brasilianum is attributed to its deep rooting system (taproot).

Temperature. Warm season plant. In northeast Argentina, the species is less affected by frost than Centrosema macrocarpum.

Light. No information available. [Research (PHD dissertation) of Heath James Addison indicated that Centrosema brasilianum is shade tolerant in dry tropics (see separate article in this site).]

Reproductive development. In the Venezuelan savannas, flowering initiated 67-92 days after planting, with maximum flowering 104-138 days after planting. A wide range of time to flowering was also observed in the savannas of northern Nigeria.

Defoliation. Good tolerance to grazing and cutting.Fire. Some tolerance to fire. 

  

Centrosema brasilianum
Centrosema brasilianum. Photo copyright © by  Chris Gardener, CIAT

Agronomy

Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.

Establishment. Scarification of seeds before sowing is necessary. Positive results were obtained with mechanical scarification, hot water treatment, Osram irradiation and sulphuric acid. C. brasilianum establishes relatively slowly hence weed control during establishment is beneficial. Can be established in oxisols and ultisols in roughly prepared seedbeds, following disc harrowing or chisel ploughing and some vegetation control. A sowing depth of 5 cm is recommended, with seeding rates of 4-5 kg/ha. Promiscuous in its Bradyrhizobium requirements but in experiments in Colombia, the species has responded to inoculation .

Fertiliser. As for other Centrosema species, phosphorus is the most limiting nutrient for establishment. Recommendations range from 10-40 kg/ha P, depending on soil parameters. In contrast to commercial centro (C. molle ), C. brasilianum requires only small quantities of magnesium and calcium for establishment.

Compatibility (with other species). Successful mixtures with Stylosanthes capitata and a range of grasses reported. Compatible with erect, tufted and stoloniferous grasses.

Companion species

Grasses: Setaria sphacelata , Andropogon gayanus , Panicum maximum , Hyparrhenia rufa, Brachiaria spp.

Pests and diseases. The biggest limitation for C. brasilianum , particularly in humid environments, is its susceptibility to rhizoctonia foliar blight (RFB), a fungal disease caused by a complex of Rhizoctonia solani, binucleate Rhizoctonia sp. (BNR), and R.. zeae . In legume -only small plots, most evaluated accessions were susceptible but a certain degree of resistance has been identified. In grazed pastures RFB affects young seedlings - reducing persistence and dry matter production, with yield reductions of up to 50%.

Ability to spread. Depending on accession, through seed and adventitious roots on trailing stems.

Weed potential. Probably low, there are no records. 

 Feeding value.

Nutritive value. Forage quality of C. brasilianum is high and compares favourably with other tropical legumes. In studies with large collections in Colombia and Nigeria (130 and 257 accessions, respectively), with sampling age of 6 and 18 weeks respectively, crude protein content ranged between 11.8-19.6%. Reports on in-vitro dry matter digestibility are variable and range from 48-56% to more than 70%. In contrast to many other tropical legumes, C. brasilianum maintains its quality and retains its leaves under drought to a large extent.

Palatability/acceptability. C. brasilianum is highly palatable. In Peru, very well accepted by cattle in the maximum rainfall period.

Toxicity. No information available.

Production potential

Dry matter. 3-10 t/ha/year DM.

Animal production. Positive effects of C. brasilianum on liveweight gains in associations with Setaria sphacelata cv. Kazungula and other grasses, and sward persistence are reported from Australia and Colombia. LWG 150 kg/animal/year. Biggest impact in dry season with LWG of 34-67 g/day/animal; in wet season LWG of 661-667 g/day/animal.

Genetics/breeding. 2n = 20 and 2n = 22. There has been no breeding work with C. brasilianum as yet. Hybridization attempts with C. tetragonolobum have been successful.

Seed production. For cv. Oolloo, seed yields equivalent to 1,000 kg/ha have been harvested in trial plots in Australia. In evaluations in South America, seed yields of up to 1,200-1,400 kg/ha are reported, with common yields from 200-500 kg/ha (hand-harvested). Seed yields benefit from support systems as trellises or grass stakes.

Herbicide effects. No information available. 

Centrosema brasilianum
Centrosema brasilianum. Photo copyright © by Rainer Schultze-Kraft

Strengths

  • Outstanding drought tolerance retaining green leaves through extended dry periods, contributing to good animal production.
  • Excellent adaptation to acid soils and low mineral nutrient requirements.
  • High nutritive value.
  • High seed yields.

Limitations

  • Susceptibility to RFB and other diseases.
  • Proper management requirements unknown.

 

Selected references

  • Anning, P. (1982) Evaluation of introduced legumes for pastures in the dry tropics of North Queensland. Tropical Grasslands, 16, 146-155.
  • Barbosa-Fevereiro, V.P. (1977) Centrosema (A.P. de Candolle) Bentham do Brasil - Leguminosae - Faboideae. Rodriguésia, 29, 159-219.
  • Belalcázar, J. and Schultze-Kraft, R. (1986) Centrosema brasilianum (L.) Benth.: descripciÓn de la especie y evaluaciÓn agronÓmica de sietes ecotipos. Pasturas Tropicales, 8, 14-19.
  • Cadisch, G., Sylvester-Bradley, R. and Nösberger, J. (1992) Variation in growth and N2 fixation within and among Centrosema spp. in response to phosphorus supply. Tropical Grasslands, 26, 226-234.
  • Cameron, A.G. and Lemke, B.G. (1997) Register of Australian Herbage Plant cultivars. B. Legumes. 15. Centro (c) Centrosema brasilianum (L.) Benth. (centro) cv. Oolloo. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 37, 717-718.
  • Clements, R.J., Winter, W.H. and Reid, R. (1984) Evaluation of some Centrosema in small plots in Northern Australia. Tropical Grasslands, 18, 83-91.
  • Grof, B. (1986) Forage potential of some Centrosema species in the Llanos Orientales of Colombia. Tropical Grasslands, 20, 107-112.
  • Lenné, J.M. (1994) Diseases of Centrosema. In: Lenné, J.M. and Trutmann, P. (eds.). Diseases of Tropical Pasture Plants. pp. 43-60. (CAB International, Wallingford, UK; CIAT, Cali, Colombia; and NRI, Chatham Maritime, UK).
  • Ludlow, M.M., Chu, A.C.P., Clements, R.J. and Kerslake, R.G. (1983) Adaptation of species of Centrosema to water stress. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology, 10, 119-130.
  • Maass, B.L. and Torres, A.M. (1992) Outcrossing in the tropical forage legume Centrosema brasilianum . In Abstracts of the XVIII Eucarpia Congress. pp. 465-466.
  • Peters, M., Kramer, H., Tarawali, S.A. and Schultze-Kraft, R. (1998) Characterization of a germplasm collection of the tropical pasture legume Centrosema brasilianum in subhumid West Africa. Journal of Agricultural Science , 130, 139-147.
  • Peters, M., Tarawali, S.A. and Schultze-Kraft, R. (2000) Relative palatability and seasonal agronomic performance of selected pasture legumes for species mixtures in dry-subhumid West Africa. Experimental Agriculture, 36, 353-368.
  • Schultze-Kraft, R. and Belalcázar, J. (1988) Germplasm evaluation and preliminary evaluation of the pasture legume Centrosema brasilianum (L.) Benth. Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad), 65, 137-144.
  • Schultze-Kraft, R. and Clements, R.J. (eds) (1990) Centrosema: Biology, Agronomy , and Utilization. CIAT Publication No. 92, Cali, Colombia.
  • Tarawali, S.A. (1994) The yield and persistence of selected forage legumes in subhumid and semi-arid West Africa. Tropical Grasslands, 28, 80-89.

Internet links

 

 Full copy from:

Tropical Forages
Centrosema brasilianum
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/Centrosema_brasilianum.htm