Crotalaria retusa

Crotalaria retusa L.

Common Names: Devil Bean, Large Yellow Rattle Box, Shack Shack, Rattle Weed

Family: Fabaceae

Habit: Crotalaria retusa grows as an annual or short-lived perennial to 1 m in height (usually shorter).  New vegetation is glabrous to very short lived pubescent. The simple leaves are arranged alternately, to 7 cm in length, oblanceolate with a rounded, retuse, or apiculate leaf apex, an entire margin and are abaxially slightly pubescent. There are minute, deciduous stipules at the base of the petiole

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are terminal racemes. The calyx 5 are partially fused, pubescent green sepals forming a tube with the sepal lobes the same length as the tube.  The corolla has 5 ,yellow with purple lines within, petals, the upper enlarged to form the banner and the lower 2 fused to form the keel. The petals may have an orange to red tinge outside and bright yellow on their inner surface. There are 10 diadelphous stamens.  The ovary is superior and has a single locule with numerous seeds.  The fruit is a brown, glabrous legume that becomes inflated and is up to 4 cm in length at maturity.  Before dehiscence the seeds become loose within the legume and make a rattling sound.

Habitat: Crotalaria retusa grows in Human Altered environments (old fields, yards roadsides).

Distribution: Crotalaria retusa is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago but occurs in the central and northern island groupings.  It is thought to be native to Africa, Asia and Australia but it’s origins are uncertain.  It is widespread now in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Crotalaria sp. has been used to treat colds in the Lucayan Archipelago.  It is not currently known if Crotalaria retusa has been used in this way and is unlikely given its toxic nature

It is considered toxic to live stock.