Centrosema rotundifolium

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Foliage and flowers.

3 (mainly) - 5 broadly elliptic leaflets per leaf.

Dehiscent aerial pods and seeds.

Geocarpic pods - usually one-seeded.

Taproot development at nodes.

Massed twining foliage - suitable for groundcover and soil stabilization.

With Brachiaria humidicola, after grazing.

Peeling back surface mat of rhizome to reveal geocarpic pods.

Removing surface mass to recover seeds.

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Scientific name

Centrosema rotundifolium Mart. ex Benth.


Bradburya rotundifolia (Mart. ex Benth.) Kuntze
Centrosema heptaphyllum Moric.
Centrosema rotundifolium var. angustifolium Benth.


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

Common names


Morphological description

Perennial, creeping herb, 3 (mainly) -5 leaflets/leaf, leaflets broad-elliptical to obovate, 4-35 mm wide, 6-45 mm long.  Aerial inflorescences with 2-6 violet flowers, aerial pods falcate , 25-50 mm long and 4-7 mm wide with 3-8 seeds, c. 5 mm long, 3 mm wide.
The species shows amphicarpy:  In addition to aerial peduncles and inflorescences, belowground peduncles penetrate from nodes of creeping stems into the soil, branch out and produce very small flowers from which 1- (seldom 2-) seeded pods develop.  In comparison with aerial seeds, belowground seeds are c. 40% larger and heavier.


Native to:
South America :  Brazil, Paraguay.


Long-term pasture , ground cover (erosion control, dune stabilization).


Soil requirements

Very sandy, well drained;  medium to low fertility, acid to very acid.


800-1,200 mm/yr, 5-8 dry months.  Defoliates in dry season but regrows in rainy season.


Warm season growth only, frost tolerance unknown.


Shade tolerance unknown.

Reproductive development

Flowering and pod setting triggered by drought stress.  Species is amphicarpic.  Belowground reproduction cleistogamous, mostly one-seeded pods, aboveground reproduction chasmogamous , 3-5 seeded pods;  100-seed weight:  7-10g.


Tolerates heavy grazing.


Regrows after fire from underground xylopodium meristems and soil seed bank.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


More hardseededness in aboveground than in belowground seed;  scarification recommended.


Phosphorus for establishment recommended.

Compatibility (with other species)

Once established, very good.

Companion species

Grasses:  Brachiaria humidicola and other creeping, stoloniferous grasses.

Pests and diseases

Rhizoctonia foliar blight (occasionally).

Ability to spread

Spread by both stolons and seed.

Weed potential

No information available.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

Medium to high.  In 8 week old herbage (east Venezuela):  CP 22-24%, P 0.39-0.45%, Ca 0.52-0.64%.


Consumed by cattle and horses.


None recorded.

Production potential

Dry matter

Low, e.g., in east Venezuela:  dry season, 75-184 kg/ha in 5 months;  rainy season:  2,140-2,420 kg/ha in 4 months.

Animal production

No information available.


2n = 22.  Aboveground reproduction partly allogamous .

Seed production

In comparison with aboveground, belowground seed production more than 3 times higher;  harvest by sieving of topsoil (first 15 cm);  yields of up to 1.5 t/ha possible.

Herbicide effects

No information available.



Other comments


Selected references

Rodríguez, I., Schultze-Kraft, R. and González, S. (2001) Evaluation of Centrosema rotundifolium for sand -soil savannas in Eastern Venezuela. In: Proceedings, XIX International Grassland Congress, 11-21 February 2001, São Pedro, São Paulo, Brazil . pp. 565-566.
Schultze-Kraft, R. and Clements, R.J. (eds) (1990) Centrosema : Biology, Agronomy , and Utilization. Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia.
Schultze-Kraft, R., Keller-Grein, G., Cárdenas, E. and Díaz Bolívar, F. (1994) Potencial de Centrosema rotundifolium como leguminosa forrajera. Pasturas Tropicales, 16, 2-8.

Internet links




Country/date released


None released to date.         

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



CIAT 5260, 5721, 25148 Venezuela The most productive and persistent accessions.