Alysicarpus monilifer

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Scientific name

Alysicarpus monilifer (L.) DC.


Hedysarum moniliferum L.


Family: Fabaceae (alt. Leguminosae) subfamily: Faboideae tribe: Desmodieae subtribe: Desmodiinae. Also placed in Papilionaceae.

Morphological description

Low growing, much branched, annual or perennial herb, 5–15 (–50) cm tall.  Leaves simple;  ovate, elliptical or lanceolate, cordate at the base, 2.5–7.5 cm long, prominently nerved, glabrous or sparsely pubescent beneath.  Racemes spicate, axillary and terminal, 1–15 cm long;  flowers lax to dense along racemes.  Pods distinctly moniliform, 3- to 5-jointed, 1–2 cm long, calyx not longer than first joint;  glabrous or sparsely pubescent;  articles 2.5–3 mm long and 2–3 mm wide, with a smooth to reticulate surface sculpture.


Native to:
Africa:  Ethiopia, Madagascar, Niger, Somalia, Sudan.
Asia:  India, Pakistan, Philippines.
Indian Ocean:  Mauritius, Réunion.


Not tested, but could be a useful component of long-term and ley pastures in low to medium rainfall areas, especially under heavy grazing.


Soil requirements

Grows on a wide range of soil types from deep sands and stony soils to cracking clays with a pH range of 5.5–8.


Perennial types from India are found in areas with 600–1,500 mm annual rainfall, and annual types from Sudan in areas with 200–400 mm, and a short (<3 months) growing season .


Mainly tropical lowlands (0–1,000 m asl) with average daily temperature range of 26–29ºC.  Perennial types are readily frosted but annuals because of early maturity largely avoid frost.


No information available.

Reproductive development

At 21ºS, flowering can occur at 60–70 days after establishment and seed can be mature at 90 days (annuals) and 110–115 days (perennials).  Seed retention is poor with moniliform pods readily disarticulating between articles.  A high percentage (>70%) of seed is hard at maturity.  Flowers August - October (- November) at 21ºN in India.


Prostrate types should tolerate intensive grazing in permanent pastures while the more erect forms are likely to be less tolerant of grazing and may be more useful in forage or as leys in cropping systems.


Response to fire in the vegetative state is not known but heavy and early seeding should minimise the chances of loss from pastures that are inadvertently burnt.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Moderate seed size and a relatively fast germination rate give a quick and reliable establishment.  Some form of seed scarification to break hard seed may be necessary.  Not highly competitive with weeds or established perennial pasture plants.


Could be expected to respond to P, K and S on soils that are deficient or below the optimum pH range of 6–8.

Compatibility (with other species)

Appears best suited in combination with less vigorous grasses.  Heavy grazing or extreme dry seasons that set back companion grasses may enhance legume persistence and spread.  Seedling regeneration has been successful at low to medium rainfall sites in a sub-humid environment on the tropic where competition from grass was not extreme.

Companion species

Grasses:  In India, A. monilifer is often found with Bothriochloa, Dichanthium, Chrysopogon and Heteropogon on rocky or eroded areas where grazing is heavy.

Pests and diseases

No information available.

Ability to spread

Early seeding and probable ability to withstand heavy grazing could result in spread from sown areas.

Weed potential

Low growth habit limits its ability to dominate companion species.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

No information available.


Well eaten by cattle.


No record of toxicity.

Production potential

Dry matter

Low to moderate yields in experimental sowings in Queensland, Australia.

Animal production

No information available.


No information available.

Seed production

Free seeding and relatively large seed, but would be difficult to harvest because of low growing habit and disarticulation of pod articles.

Herbicide effects

No information available.



Selected references

Gramshaw, D, Pengelly, B.C, Muller, F.W., the late W.A.T. Harding and Williams, R.J. (1987) Classification of a collection of the legume Alysicarpus using morphological and preliminary agronomic attributes. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 38, 355–372.

Internet links



Country/date released


None released to date.      

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



CPI 40612 Northern Australia Annual with potential to regenerate in low (<800 mm) rainfall areas in permanent and ley pastures.