Manayan Farm, Malalam, Ilagan

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Farm 03 Cadu, Ilagan

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Shade Tolerant Legumes

Shade tolerance of tropical forage legumes for use in agroforestry systems

Arachis pintoi 
Arachis pintoi growing under tree pantation [Photo copyright by Werner Stur (Tropical Forages):]

Sixteen species were identified which are potentially useful, shade tolerant or shade adapted, pasture species for use beneath tree plantations in both the wet and the seasonally dry tropics. The most promising species suited to the wet tropics were Arachis pintoiCentrosema acutifoliumC. macrocarpumC. pubescens, Calopogonium mucunoidesDesmodium intortumD. ovalifoliumD. canumD. heterophyllumD. uncinatum and Pueraria phaseoloides. The most promising species suited to the seasonally dry tropics were Arachis stenospermaCentrosema brasilianumClitoria ternateaMacroptilium atropurpureum and M. lathyroides.

Read more: Shade tolerance of tropical forage legumes for use in agroforestry systems

Desmodium heterocarpon

Desmodium heterocarpon  Desmodium heterocarpon. Photo copyright © 2014 by R. Bedoya

 One of the most shade tolerant leguminous cover/forage crops. Grows well under the heavy shade of rubber and oil palm plantations.

Morphological description. An aggressively creeping, stoloniferous legume that may reach 1 m height in dense stands. Stems are multi-branched but quite woody at their base. Young plants always have single broadly elliptical leaves; on more mature plants leaves may be unifoliate or trifoliate, with terminal leaflet larger than laterals. Terminal leaflets 30-45 mm by 15-30 mm without any markings, glabrous and glossy on upper surface, pilose underneath. Inflorescence is a densely flowered raceme 2-5 cm long, with purple to dark pink flowers, turning bluish with age. Pods comprised of 2-8 segments, 3 mm long, covered in dense hairs; held in a dense, erect cluster; dehiscent when ripe. Mature seeds yellow.

Read more: Desmodium heterocarpon

Desmodium incanum

Desmodium incanum
Desmodium incanum. Photo copypright ©2014 by Wikipedia

Morphological description. Erect perennial herb or low shrub growing to 60 cm tall, but more typically prostrate and below 20 cm under grazing. Fibrous trailing stems from a deep well-branched root system; stems root readily at the nodes. Trifoliate leaves on petioles up to 3.5 cm long, with stipules 3–11 mm long by 1–3 mm wide. The leaflets are very variable, but mostly elliptical. The terminal leaflet may be up to 9 cm long and 4.5 cm wide with lateral leaflets up to 6 cm long and 3 cm wide, but generally the leaves on upper braches are larger and more pointed than those on the lower branches. The upper surface of the leaf is dark green, often with a paler streak along the midrib, but paler and densely pilose on the under surface.

The inflorescence is a terminal or axillary raceme , up to 20 cm long with single blue, red or purple flowers on standards up to 6 mm long. The flowers may also be in fascicles of 3.

The seed pods may be up to 4 cm long, with a straight upper margin and strongly indented lower margin, and are covered with hooked hairs. The light brown seeds are usually kidney shaped, 1 mm x 0.5 mm.

Read more: Desmodium incanum

Pueraria phaseoloides

Pueraria phaseoloides
Pueraria phaseoloides. Photo copyright ©2012 by Ravan Schneider

Morphological description. Vigorous, deep-rooted, perennial twining and climbing legume, slightly woody, hairy. Its main stems are slender, 6 mm in diameter and up to 10 m in length, rooting at the nodes upon contact with moist soil. Secondary branches arise from the nodes to create a dense mass of vegetation 60-75 cm deep if left ungrazed or uncut. Young shoots are densely covered with brown hairs. Leaves large, trifoliate, borne on petioles 5-10 cm long covered with ascending hairs. Leaflets thin, triangular-ovate, 2-20 cm x 2-15 cm, usually very shallowly lobed; lateral leaflets oblique 6-7 cm long and wide. Flowers small, mauve to deep purple, borne in scattered pairs in axillary racemes about 15-30 cm long on peduncles about 12.5 cm long. Pod straight, or slightly curved, linear, cylindrical, 4-11 cm x 3-5 mm, thinly covered with stiff adpressed hairs, turning black when ripe. Seeds 3 mm x 2 mm, oblong to squarish with rounded corners, brown to brownish black in colour. 10-20 seeds/pod . Seed weight 80,000-88,000/kg. 

Read more: Pueraria phaseoloides

Centrosema macrocarpum

 Morphological description Tap-rooted, trailing perennial herb with slender stems, rooting at the nodes in some genotypes. Stems pilose with greyish hairs when young, glabrescent, lignified at base. Leaves trifoliolate; stipules triangular, petioles and petiolules pubescent; leaflets broadly to narrowly ovate, acute to acuminate at the apex, rounded or slightly wedge-shaped at the base; central leaflet larger and with longer petioles than the laterals, mostly 8-13 cm long, 3-8 cm wide, papyraceous to subcoriaceous, almost glabrous to pubescent on lower or both surfaces; frequently with a light-green marking along midrib. Inflorescence an axillary raceme with up to 30 flowers inserted in pairs along rachis; flowers papilionate, subtended by a pair of ovate-lanceolate-falcate bracteoles; calyx campanulate, 5-teethed with carinal tooth considerably longer than others; petals showy and cream-coloured with purple centre; standard orbicular-emarginate, 3-6 cm in diameter, pubescent outside; wings and keel much smaller than standard, directed upwards. Pod linear, compressed, up to 30 cm long, 1 cm wide, straight to slightly bent and beaked, subglabrous, containing up to 25 seeds, dehiscent. Seeds transversely oblong to rectangular, on average 5 mm x 3 mm, yellowish-brownish or black, plain, mottled or marbled. 15,000 - 25,000 seeds/kg.


Read more: Centrosema macrocarpum