Macrotyloma daltonii

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Scientific name

Macrotyloma daltonii (Webb) Verdc.


Dolichos daltonii Webb


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

Morphological description

An annual or sometimes perennial climbing or trailing herb to 1.5 m long.  Stems covered with long soft hairs.  Leaflets 3, elliptic 2–6.8 cm long and 0.7–4.5 cm wide, acute or acuminate at the apex and cuneate and narrowly to broadly rounded at the base.  Petioles are 1–6.5 cm long with rachis 4–10 mm long.  Stipules are lanceolate-triangular, 5–9 mm long and 2–3 mm wide and nerved.  Flowers axillary, solitary or 2–3 in fascicles, pedicels 1.5–3 mm long, bracts 2 mm long.  Flower colour is greenish-yellow to cream sometimes with a mauve mark.  Wings and keel narrow and cream or pale yellow-green.  Pods linear to oblong , straight or slightly curved, 2.5–4.5 cm long, 6–8 mm wide and rather laxly covered with long white hairs.  Seed are reddish or pale pinkish-brown and densely mottled with grey and black.  Seed size is 4.2–6.0 mm long, 3.5–5.0 mm wide and 1.5–2.0 mm thick.  There are approximately 50,000 seeds/kg.


Native to:
Africa:  Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa (Limpopo), Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Macaronesia:  Cape Verde.

Occurs in grassland, wooded grassland, woodland, bushland and thicket.


Self regenerating annual in permanent and ley pastures.


Soil requirements

Occurs mostly on deep sands, loams and sandy loams, but also on stony soils and clays, with pH of 6–8.


Rainfall at collection sites ranges from 350–775 mm/yr (mostly 600–700 mm).


Extends from about 16ºN in Cape Verde, 12ºN in Sudan to about 23ºS (900 m asl) in South Africa, and at 1,650 m asl at 4.7ºS in Tanzania.


Low shade tolerance.

Reproductive development

Short day plant.  Variable flowering with ecotype.  Few seeds by end of March at 19ºS.  Seed collected early to mid April at 20ºS.  Flowering and seeding well or pods nearly 100% shattered by mid-June at 6ºS.


High growing points (>7 cm) on the basal stem make it intolerant to regular defoliation .


No information available.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Easily established in cultivated seedbeds with surface and near surface sowing.  Large seed size and fast germination rate enhance the success of establishment.  Can also re-establish very successfully from soil seed in crop situations and also in permanent pastures but regeneration is erratic in competition with strong growing grasses.


Although growing fairly well at low fertility, even on old cultivation land, it responds to applications of 10–20 kg/ha P on these poorer soils.

Compatibility (with other species)

Grows successfully with tufted grasses and other twining and shrub legumes.  The twining habit enables M. daltonii to climb taller grasses and crop plants, and to smother weeds.

Companion species

Grasses:  Heteropogon contortus , Panicum maximum , Urochloa mosambicensis , U. oligotricha .
Legumes:  Macroptilium atropurpureum , Neonotonia wightii , Stylosanthes scabra .

Pests and diseases

Root disease can cause wilting and death in wet conditions on clay soils.

Ability to spread

Limited ability to spread.  High seed production but has to regenerate each year and does not compete with strong growing perennial grasses.

Weed potential

Low potential in grasslands but could be weed of summer cropping areas.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

Leaves have high nutritive value and low acid detergent fibre (ADF ) but N content in comparison with Lablab and Macroptilium was lower.  Stems were lower in N and higher in ADF than Lablab and Macroptilium.


Less readily eaten by grazing beef cattle than Vigna trilobata , Macroptilium bracteatum , Lablab purpureus and Clitoria ternatea in grazing trials at Brian Pastures Rerearch Station, Gayndah, Queensland.  In grasslands, M. daltonii is grazed most readily late in summer.


None reported.

Production potential

Dry matter

Depending on rainfall and the length of the growing season , yields of pure swards can range from 1–4 t/ha.  In grasslands, yields are lower and highly variable.

Animal production

On grasslands with M daltonii as a legume component, animal growth rates can be improved over grass only pastures by up to 60 kg/head/year.  However, when grazed as a legume forage crop, animal growth rates of steers were lower (0.35–0.66 kg/head/day) than for those grazing lablab (Lablab purpureus ) (0.6–0.86 kg/head/day) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata ) (0.55–0.79 kg/head/day), possibly because of reduced intakes of the less palatable M daltonii.

Seed production

Seed production can be high but recovery is likely to be difficult because of seed shattering.  Suction harvesting as for other Macrotyloma spp. could be the most efficient seed harvesting strategy.

Herbicide effects

Susceptible to a range of broad-leaf herbicides including dicamba, MCPA, metsulfuron-methyl and fluroxypyr.



Other comments


Selected references

Blumenthal, M.J., O’Rourke, P.K., Hilder, T.B. and Williams, R.J. (1989) Classification of the Australian collection of the legume Macrotyloma. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 40, 591–604.
Blumenthal, M.J. and Staples, I.B. (1993) Origin, evaluation and use of Macrotyloma as forage —a review. Tropical Grasslands, 27, 16–29.
Clem, R.L. (2004) Animal production from legume -based ley pastures in south eastern Queensland. In: Whitbread, A.M. and Pengelly, B.C. (eds) Tropical legumes for sustainable farming systems in southern Africa and Australia. ACIAR Proceedings No. 115. pp.136–144.
Dalzell, S.A., Brandon, N.J. and Jones, R.M (1997) Response of Lablab purpureus cv. Highworth, Macroptilium bracteatum and Macrotyloma daltonii to different intensities and frequencies of cutting. Tropical Grasslands, 31, 107–113.
Gillett, J.B., Polhill, R.M. and Verdcourt, B. (1971) Leguminosae (Part 3) subfamily Papilionoideae (1). In: Redhead, R.M. and Polhill, R.M. (eds) Flora of tropical East Africa. (Crown Agents).
Verdcourt, B. (1970) Studies in the Leguminosae - Papilionoideae for the "Flora of Tropical East Africa”: III. Kew Bulletin, 24, 379–447.
Verdcourt, B. (1980) The classification of Dolichos L. emend. Verdc., Lablab Adans., Phaseolus L., Vigna Savi and their allies. In: Summerfield, R.J. and Bunting, A.H. (eds) Advances in Legume Science. pp. 45–48. (Kew Royal Botanic Gardens).
Verdcourt, B. (1982) A revision of Macrotyloma (Leguminosae). Hooker's icones plantarum, 38, 37.



Country/date released


None released to date.      

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



CPI 60303 Queensland, Australia From Huila Plateau, Namibia (20.5ºS, 16.12ºE, 1,270 m asl, rainfall 350 mm).  A leafy, early flowering accession .