Crotalaria spectabilis

Crotalaria spectabilis Roth

Common Names: Rattle Box, Showy Rattle Pod, Rattle Weed, Cats Bell

Family: Fabaceae

Habit: Crotalaria spectabilis grows as an annual or short-lived perennial to 100 cm in height.  New vegetation is glabrous to pubescent. The simple leaves are arranged alternately, obovate/ob-elliptic with a round leaf apex and an entire margin. There are ovate stipules at the base of the petiole

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are terminal or axillary 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 petals, the upper enlarged to form the banner and the lower 2 fused to form the keel. There may be dark lines at the base of the petals. There are 10 diadelphous stamens.  The ovary is superior and has a single locule with numerous seeds.  The fruit is a brown legume that becomes inflated and is up to 2 cm in length at maturity with pubescence along its line of dehiscence.  Before dehiscence the seeds become loose within the legume and make a rattling sound.

Habitat: Crotalaria spectabilis grows in Human Altered environments (old fields, yards roadsides) and along the edges of Pine Woodlands.

Distribution: Crotalaria spectabilis is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago but occurs in the central and northern island groupings.  It is native to Asia and The Indian Subcontinent.  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 spectabilis has been used in this way.

It is considered toxic to live stock.