Macroptilium gracile

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Flowers, pods and seeds.


Twining, trailing stems.

Ripe pods.

CPI 91340 - a fine leafed form.

Twining, trailing stems - a promising line?

From:‘t Mannetje, L. and Jones, R.M. (1992) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4. Forages. (Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands). © Prosea Foundation.

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Scientific name

Macroptilium gracile (Poepp. & Benth.) Urb.


Macroptilium longipedunculatum (Mart. ex Benth.) Urb.
Phaseolus campestris Mart. ex Benth.
Phaseolus gracilis Poepp. ex Benth.
Phaseolus longipedunculatus Mart. ex Benth.


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

Common names

llanos macro.

Morphological description

Macroptilium gracile is a variable species.  It is a short lived perennial herb to 60 cm high with trailing stems;  vegetative parts shortly pilose;  hairs of the stem retrorse.  Leaves are trifoliate.  Lateral leaflets are ovate with asymmetric bases, 20-44 mm long, 10-31 mm wide.  The terminal leaflets are broadly lanceolate to deltoid, 25-48 mm long, 13-30 mm wide.  Flowers are approximately 24 mm long and are grey-orange in colour.  The flowers are held above the foliage in an inflorescence on a peduncle 18-33 cm long.  Pods are small and linear, 35-70 mm long containing 10-18 seeds.  Seeds are small, mottled light and dark grey, flattened ovoid in shape, approximately 300,000 per kg.
'Maldonado' is similar in appearance to siratro (Macroptilium atropurpureum ).  The differences are that siratro has larger, deep purple coloured flowers, larger pods and seeds and lateral leaflets, which are lobed.


Native to:
M. gracile
is a native of tropical South and Central America.  It is generally found at low altitude (2-250 m) in areas with annual rainfall between 960 and 1,300 mm.


M. gracile was evaluated in the Northern Territory of Australia as a component of grazed mixed pastures.  It is well accepted by stock.  It behaves as a biennial.  On average 40% of plants will survive from one wet season to the next.  It can be used in mixed pastures or as a stand over feed.  Good quality hay can be made from 'Maldonado'.  Hay areas may need renovating every three or four years to maintain a pure stand of 'Maldonado'.  It is a good pioneer legume , growing and spreading well in new pastures, and smothering weeds.


Soil requirements

'Maldonado' was collected on a clay soil in Venezuela.  It is suited to many soil types in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Australia.  It has shown good growth on red and yellow earths and floodplain solodic soils, but it has performed poorly on seasonally flooded cracking clay floodplain soils.


'Maldonado' has shown good tolerance of waterlogging on solodic and yellow earth soils, and of short term flooding on solodic soils.  It has survived three months of flooding.  A stand, which was almost eliminated by five months of continuous flooding in 1989, showed good re-establishment and growth during 1990 after being cultivated prior to the wet season.  'Maldonado' is suited to areas with reliable wet and dry seasons receiving annual rainfall of over 1,100 mm.


No information available.


No information available.

Reproductive development

'Maldonado' appears to be a short day plant.  It commences flowering in mid to late April in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Australia, producing many seeds.  Seed is produced over an extended period and pods shatter and drop the seed as they mature.  It does not set seed in wet equatorial climates.


'Maldonado' should not be grazed in the year of establishment before it has set seed.


Fire kills living plants, but stands recover from hard seed in the soil.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Seed should be sown at 2-4 kg/ha depending on seedbed preparation and proposed end use.  For best results, seed should be sown at 1-2 cm into a well-prepared seedbed.  'Maldonado' is not specific in its rhizobium requirements and does not require inoculation .


Generally, seed should be sown with 100-200 kg of superphosphate, and maintenance applications should be 50-100 kg/ha yearly.  Applications of potassium, molybdenum or zinc fertilisers may be necessary on some soils.

Compatibility (with other species)

It is expected that 'Maldonado' will form more successful mixes with the tussocky guinea (Panicum maximum ) and setaria (Setaria sphacelata) grasses than with vigorous runner grasses such as 'Tully' (Brachiaria humidicola ).

Companion species

Grasses:   Brachiaria decumbens , B. humidicola , B. mutica , Digitaria eriantha , Panicum maximum and Setaria sphacelata.

Pests and diseases

After periods of wet weather small patches of dead leaves (leaf blight) can be found in swards.  These are caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia sp.  The areas involved are only small and no control measures are required.

Ability to spread

Spreads slowly by seed.

Weed potential

Low.  There are no records or reports of weediness.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

The forage quality is similar to that of other tropical legumes.  Crude protein percentages of fresh growth are 15-18%.  These drop to 7-9% at the end of the dry season.  IVDMD values are 65-70% during the wet season, dropping to 45-55% during the dry season.


'Maldonado' is well accepted by stock as green feed, standing feed or hay .


No indications of any toxicity.

Production potential

Dry matter

Dry matter yields up to 5-7 t/ha have been recorded in the Top End, in ungrazed pastures.

Animal production

When grazed as standover fodder in the Northern Territory, 'Maldonado' gave liveweight gains of 345 g/head/day over 56 days when stocked at 3 head/ha in 1987.  In 1988, liveweight losses were 34 g/head/day over a 26 day period, when stocked at 2 head/ha.


There has been no breeding work with M. gracile .

Seed production

Seed yields up to 240 kg/ha of 'Maldonado' have been recorded in trials and from irrigated seed crops.  As the seed is shed rapidly it must be suction harvested.

Herbicide effects

No information available.



Other comments


Selected references

Cameron, A.G. (1992a) Macroptilium longepedunculatum (Benth.) Urban. In: 't Mannetje, L. and Jones, R.M. (eds) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4. Forages. pp. 159-160. (Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands).
Cameron, A.G. (1992b) (C) Macroptilium longipedunculatum (Bentham) Urban (Llanos macro) cv Maldonado. Aust. J. Exp. Agric., 32, 264.
Cameron, A.G. (2003) Maldonado NTDBIRD Agnote No. 429.
Cameron, A.G. and Ross, B.J. (1994) Evaluation of Macroptilium longepedunculatum (Maldonado) lines near Darwin, Northern Territory.
Pengelly,B.C. and Eagles, D.A. (1993) Diversity and forage potential of some Macroptilium species.CSIRO DTCP Genetic Resources Communication No. 20.

Internet links



Country/date released


'Maldonado' Australia (1990)     

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



CPI 61635 Australia Appears identical to 'Maldonado'.