Neonotonia wightii

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Foliage, flowers and pods.

Pods and seeds.

Foliage (trifoliolate leaves) and inflorescences (axillary racemes).

Seed regeneration plot of cv. Malawi in northern Australia.

cv.Tinaroo and Setaria sphacelata cv. Narok.

cv. Tinaroo and Panicum maximum cv. Makueni.

cv. Tinaroo and Chloris gayana cv. Callide.

cv. Tinaroo and Setaria sphacelata cv. Narok.

Hay baling of cv. Tinaroo windrows in northern Australia.

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

Neonotonia wightii (Wight & Arn.) J.A. Lackey

Subordinate taxa:
Neonotonia wightii (Wight & Arn.) J.A. Lackey subsp. petitiana (A. Rich.) J.A. Lackey var. mearnsii (De Wild.) J.A. Lackey
Neonotonia wightii (Wight & Arn.) J.A. Lackey subsp. petitiana (A. Rich.) J.A. Lackey var. petitiana (A. Rich.) J.A. Lackey
Neonotonia wightii (Wight & Arn.) J.A. Lackey subsp. pseudo-javanica (Taub.) J.A. Lackey
Neonotonia wightii (Wight & Arn.) J.A. Lackey subsp. wightii var. longicauda (Schweinf.) J.A. Lackey
Neonotonia wightii (Wight & Arn.) J.A. Lackey subsp. wightii var. wightii


Glycine javanica auct.
Glycine javanica L. var. paniculata Hauman
Glycine albidiflora De Wild.
Glycine claessensii De Wild.
Glycine javanica sensu auct.
Glycine javanica L. var. claessensii (De Wild.) Hauman
Glycine javanica L. var. longicauda (Schweinf.) Baker
Glycine javanica L. subsp. micrantha (A. Rich.) F.J. Herm.
Glycine javanica L. var. mearnsii (De Wild.) Hauman
Glycine longicauda Schweinf.
Glycine mearnsii De Wild.
Glycine micrantha A. Rich.
Glycine moniliformis A. Rich.
Glycine petitiana Hermann pro parte
Glycine pseudojavanica Taub.
Glycine wightii (Wight & Arn.) Verdc. var. longicauda (Schweinf.) Verdc.
Glycine wightii (Wight & Arn.) Verdc. subsp. petitiana (A. Rich.) Verdc. var. mearnsii (De Wild.) Verdc.
Glycine wightii (Wight & Arn.) Verdc. subsp. petitiana (A. Rich.) Verdc.
Glycine wightii (Wight & Arn.) Verdc. subsp. pseudojavanica (Taub.) Verdc.
Glycine wightii (Wight & Arn.) Verdc. subsp. wightii
Johnia wightii (Wight & Arn.) Wight & Arn.
Notonia wightii Wight & Arn.


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

Common names

glycine (Australia, Kenya);  soja perene (Brazil,);  soya perenne forrajera, soya forrajera, soya perenne (Colombia, Mexico);  perennial soybean (English);  soja pérenne (French);  ausdauernde soja (German);  soja-perene (Portuguese);  rhodesian kudzu (Taiwan);  fundo-fundo (Tanzania);  thua peelenian soibean (Thai).

Morphological description

Trailing, climbing, or twining perennial with strong taproot, and woody base to 25 mm diameter in advanced plants, climbing to 10 m on appropriate framework (e.g. trees).  Herbaceous stems slender (mostly 2-3 mm diameter), ( glabrous to densely pubescent (hairs whitish to reddish brown, semi-erect, retrorse) well branched, redeveloping from underground crown if main stem severed;  ability for prostrate stems to develop nodal roots varies with ecotype.  Leaves pinnately trifoliolate;  leaflets elliptic, ovate, or rhombic-ovate, acute to obtuse, 1.5-15 cm long, long and 1.3-12.5 cm wide, glabrous to densely velvety pubescent;  stipules lanceolate, 4-6 mm long, deciduous;  petiole 2.5-13 cm long.  Inflorescence axillary, dense or lax racemes, 2-35 cm long on peduncles 3-12.5 cm long, comprising 20-150 flowers;  flowers 4.5-11 mm long, standard white to mauve-blue, sometimes with obscure small violet streaks on lower part, yellow to orange on senescence.  Pod brown, linear-oblong, straight or slightly curved at the apex, transversely grooved and weakly septate between the seeds, glabrous to densely pubescent with grey to reddish brown hairs, 1.5-4.0 cm long and 2.5-5 mm wide, containing 3-8 seeds, shattering at maturity.  Seeds oblong with rounded corners, laterally compressed, olive-green to light- to dark- and reddish-brown, occasionally mottled, aril white, 2-4 mm long, 1.5-3 mm wide and 1-1.5 mm thick;  50,000-170,000 (-330,000) seeds/kg.


Native to:
Africa:  Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
May also be native to the following, although generally considered an African genus:
Arabia , India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia (Java), Malaysia (peninsula) (GRIN database).
Found in grassland, and shaded situations in bushland, thicket and woodland.

Naturalised in:
Subtropical Australia (particularly in former rainforest areas and around rainforest margins) and in many other parts of the tropics.


Pasture for grazing, cut-and-carry, and standover - makes good hay and silage.  Suitable for open pasture or agroforestry, although twining habit can be a problem in the latter.


Soil requirements

Occurs on wide range of soils from red sands to heavy black clays, mostly, but not always, well drained, and with pH from 6-8.9.  In cultivation, grows best on fertile, deep, freely drained, near neutral clays and clay loams, usually of alluvial origin or derived from basic igneous rocks (basalt, andesite).  Performance is less reliable on soils with pH much less than 6 unless heavily limed, or those with a hard-setting A horizon.  More demanding than most tropical legumes for molybdenum.  Very sensitive to manganese (more so than Trifolium repens) and aluminium toxicity (similar to Trifolium repens), both of which are alleviated by additions of lime.  Symptoms of Mn toxicity include interveinal chlorosis and leaf puckering.  Moderately tolerant of salinity, some varieties more so than others.  Of the twining legumes, N. wightii is best adapted to neutral fertile soils, Centrosema molle (pubescens) to acid fertile soils, and Macrotyloma axillare and Macroptilium atropurpureum to acid, moderately fertile soils.


Originates from areas with average annual rainfall from 550-1,650 mm, mostly 750-1,000 mm.  Cultivars are usually grown in areas with a summer dominant rainfall, with annual averages between 800 and 1,500 mm.  It is not successful in areas of much higher rainfall .  N. wightii is generally quite drought tolerant, although this varies among ecotypes.  Grows best in well-drained soils, but tolerates a degree of waterlogging , some accessions being collected in depressions and on swamp margins.  Tolerates short periods of flooding although not normally grown on flood-prone land.


Most evaluated material originates from tropical east Africa, where it occurs mostly >1,000 (and up to 2,450) m asl, and from southern Africa to 33ºS, largely at lower altitudes (but sometimes to 1,750 m asl).  Average annual temperatures vary from as low as 15ºC to about 25ºC, sometimes with a lowest average monthly minimum of 5 or 6ºC, and subject to frosts.  Foliage and finer stems are killed by frost causing leaf shedding, but plants recover from buds on the older, less affected stems, and from the low crown.  Up to 50% of plants may be killed if temperatures fall below -10ºC.  Optimum day/night temperature regime for growth 30/25ºC, with growth slowing at 16°C and ceasing at 13°C.


Moderately shade tolerant, growing successfully under trees in open forest and woodland.  Twines towards the light when growing among taller grasses.

Reproductive development

A short-day plant.  Cultivars have been selected partly on the basis of flowering time.


N. wightii is relatively slow to establish, and should not be grazed too early.  Under normal conditions, mixed grass/legume pastures can be grazed 7-8 weeks after sowing, but then only with sufficient grazing pressure to reduce the grass competition for the young legume plants.  In the following season once the legume is fully established, the pasture can be rotationally grazed, leaving at least a 20 cm stubble after each grazing.  It is intolerant of continuous intensive grazing.  Even if not being used as standover feed, it is advisable to exclude stock towards the end of the growing season every few years to facilitate legume build-up accompanied by flowering and seeding to assist legume persistence.  Longer periods of de-stocking may be necessary for shrubby weed suppression.


Overcomes the damaging effects of fire by virtue of low or buried crown, and setting large amounts of hard seed that germinate following fire.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Hard seed levels in manually harvested seed are frequently of the order of 80-90%.  Larger samples can be mechanically scarified, and smaller samples treated with concentrated sulphuric acid for 25 minutes or hot water at 70ºC for 10 minutes.  Commercial seed has usually been sufficiently scarified during the harvesting and threshing process.  N. wightii is fairly promiscuous in its rhizobial relationships, but is best inoculated with CB 756 (Australia), SFS 288 or SFS 404 (Brazil), or MG 5013 (Malawi).  Seed can be broadcast onto the surface of a well-prepared seedbed, or drilled to 1-2 cm at 1-5 kg/ha seed, and rolled with a heavy roller.  Germination is best at moderate temperatures, and declines markedly above 37°C.  Seedlings are initially slow, but vigour improves with the development of effective nodulation.  With good conditions, ground cover can be achieved by about 2 months after sowing.


N. wightii requires fertile soil, and deficiencies or toxicities must be corrected for a productive stand.  Main nutrients to consider are calcium, phosphorus, sulphur and molybdenum.  On very fertile soils, no fertilizer may be required, but as a guide, a suitable establishment dressing is 40 kg/ha P together with 200 g Mo (= 600 g Mo trioxide or 300 g of Na molybdate).  Follow-up dressings of 20 kg/ha P every 1 or 2 years, and 100 g/ha Mo every 3 years may be necessary.  Need for copper should be monitored in areas of known Cu deficiency, since Mo and Cu are antagonistic.

Compatibility (with other species)

The slow seedlings can be smothered by initial grass or weed growth if steps are not taken to reduce this competition.  Cutting or grazing to about 15 cm every nine weeks helps to minimise competition.

Companion species

Grasses:  Chloris gayana , Digitaria eriantha (pangola grass ), Panicum maximum , Pennisetum clandestinum , P. purpureum , Setaria sphacelata, Brachiaria decumbens .
Legumes:  Leucaena leucocephala , Vigna parkeri .

Pests and diseases

Generally few problems with pests and diseases.  Under very wet conditions, leaf blight caused by Rhizoctonia solani can cause severe leaf damage.  A leaf spot (Cercospora sp.), sclerotinia rot (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) and another disease caused by Synchytrium dolici producing small yellow rust spots on the leaves and stems have also been recorded.  Rust (Phakopsora pachyrhiza) is sometimes found on mature leaves but is not a problem in grazed stands where there is a regular turnover of leaves.  N. wightii is an alternative host for halo blight caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola, a serious disease of french beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), but is not seriously affected itself.  Alfalfa mosaic virus has been isolated.
During moist and mild, temperature conditions, webworms (Oncopera spp.: Lepidoptera, Hepialidae) can severely defoliate plants.  Amnemus weevil (Amnemus quadrituberculatus) and rough brown weevil (Baryopadus corrugatus) (both Coleoptera, Curculionidae) attack the roots of young plants, causing loss of stand.  Seed yields have been reduced due to activity of a bruchid weevil (Bruchus sp.: Coleoptera, Bruchidae).

Ability to spread

N. wightii is a prolific seeder, and with sufficient space and the appropriate environment, seedlings establish readily.  Some varieties can also spread vegetatively, rooting down at the nodes.

Weed potential

Has becomes a serious weed of rainforest margins, growing over surrounding weedy shrubs such as Lantana camara and Solanum mauritianum, and into the lower tree canopy .

Feeding value

Nutritive value

Crude protein values in the leaf dry matter range to about 26%, and to 20% in the whole plant.  Dry matter digestibility varies from about 55-62%, which is generally higher than that of Centrosema molle (pubescens) and Lablab purpureus .  Digestibility varies widely with the age of regrowth and the moisture regime under which the pastures are grown, and is about 10 units lower than that of a temperate legume at an equivalent stage of growth.


As with many warm season legumes, it is not always well grazed early in the season, but if not properly managed, may be selectively grazed towards the end of the season when grasses are more mature.


Low levels of oestrogenic substances have not been associated with any problems.  Can cause meat taint initially, which diminishes with continued exposure.

Production potential

Dry matter

Dry matter yields vary according to soil and environmental conditions, and with variety and defoliation management.  They generally range from about 3-8 t/ha DM, and rarely to 12 t/ha.

Animal production

Experimental data provide unrealistically low estimates of the value of N. wightii or compare different systems.  Commercial dairy and beef producers have judged it favourably and continue to plant it.


2n = 22 (diploid), 44 (tetraploid).  Essentially cleistogamous and self-pollinated, with a low percentage of outcrossing.

Seed production

A day/night temperature regime of 27/22 to 16°C is most suitable for seed production and growth;  seed formation is reduced at high temperatures. Seed may be harvested by hand or machine harvested.  Crops are ready when pods become dark and hard and commence shattering.  They can be direct headed, or mowed and windrowed prior to threshing.  Peg drum threshers are favoured to minimise the difficulties encountered with tangling vines.  While yields of up to 1 t/ha seed have been recorded, commercial producers consider 300 kg/ha satisfactory.

Herbicide effects

N. wightii is tolerant of pre-emergence applications of trifluralin and benfluralin.  Seedlings are susceptible to acifluorfen, bentazone, 2,4-D and 2,4-DB.  Tolerance to 2,4-D and 2,4-DB improves with age.  The former should only be used at 0.8 kg/ha a.e. or less once the stand is three to four months old, but still checks growth of the legume.  2,4-DB can be used at five weeks of age at 1.1 kg/ha a.e., and at 2.2 kg/ha a.e. at three to four months.  Tolerant of diquat at 140 g/ha cation from 5 to 8 weeks as long as seedlings are healthy, and at 280 g/ha once established.



Selected references

Bogdan, A.V. (1977) Tropical Pasture and Fodder Plants (Grasses and Legumes). pp. 357-364. (Longman: London and New York).
Diatloff, A. and Ferguson, J.E. (1970) Nodule number, time of nodulation and its effectiveness in eleven accessions of Glycine wightii. Tropical Grasslands, 3, 223-228.
Edye, L.A. and Kiers, H.J. (1966) Variation in maturity, stolon development and frost resistance of Glycine javanica. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, 6, 380-387.
Eyde, L.A. (1967) Yield comparisons of thirty-eight introductions of Glycine javanica in swards in three environments. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, 7, 342-350.
Eyde, L.A., Williams, W.T. and Pritchard, A.J. (1970) A numerical analysis of variation pattern in Australia introductions of Glycine wightii (G. javanica). Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 21, 513-516.
Ferguson, J.E. (1969) Observations on the growth characterisation of Glycine javanica L. Queensland Journal of Agricultural and Animal Science, 26, 513-516.
Ferguson, J.E. (1969) Characterisation of introductions of Glycine javanica L. Queensland Journal of Agricultural and Animal Sciences, 26, 517-528.
Pengelly, B.C. and Benjamin, A.K. (1992) Neonotonia wightii (Wight & Arnott) Lackey. In: 't Mannetje, L. and Jones, R.M. (eds) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4. Forages. pp. 169-171. (Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands).
Verdourt, B. (1971) Phaseoleae. In: Redhead, R.M. and Polhill, R.M. (eds) Flora of tropical East Africa. Leguminosae 4, sub-family Papilionoideae 2. Crown Agents.

Internet links



Country/date released


(P 1402, PI 322608, PI 339670, PI 379645)
NSW, Australia (1962) From the Nigel district, Gauteng, South Africa (26.4ºS, 28.5ºE, 1,550 m asl, rainfall 850 mm). A tetraploid (2n = 44).  Originally classified as var. claessensii (De Wild) Haumann.  Stems coarser, less branched and less stoloniferous than 'Cooper' or 'Tinaroo';  pronounced brown hairs over the whole plant;  large leaves, with hairs on both surfaces;  veins of the lower surface prominent, rust-coloured.  Flowers with pink-violet streaks on the standard .  Slightly earlier flowering than 'Cooper', seeds maturing before frosts in marginal areas (early April at 27ºS).  Commences post-winter growth earlier than other cultivars.
(CPI 25702, K 115, P 5873, PI 339687, PI 379644)
Queensland, Australia (1962) Institutional collection from Kongwa, Tanzania.  A diploid (2n = 22).  Originally classified as var. moniliformis (Hochst. ex A. Rich.) F.J. Herm.  Stems branched, slender and stoloniferous;  leaves and stems covered in white hairs.  Lateral leaflets more symmetrical than other cultivars.  Flowers white, with pink-violet streaks on the standard.  Marked constrictions in pods.  Flowers in late April at 27ºS, maturing 4-6 weeks before 'Tinaroo'.  Continues growth later into the autumn than 'Clarence'.  Establishes faster and is more tolerant of drought and waterlogging than other cultivars.
'Kenya violet glycine'
(K51393, CPI 37920)
Kenya From near Eldoret, Kenya (0.5ºN, 35.2ºE, 2,100 m asl, rainfall 1,220 mm ).  Diploid (2n = 22).  A very uniform variety, originally classified as subspecies micrantha (Hochst ex A. Rich.) F.J. Herm.  Leaflets small, acute, the terminal ones mostly 3-4 cm long.  Stems fine.  Racemes 5-10 cm long.  Flowers small, violet in colour, not turning yellow after flowering.  Pods slightly curved, hairy, hairs directed toward the base of the pod .  Although small, in mixed swards it is only slightly less vigorous than K51394.
'Kenya white glycine'
(K51394, CPI 39165)
Kenya From near Eldoret, Kenya (0.5ºN, 35.2ºE, 2,100 m asl, rainfall 1,220 mm ).  Tetraploid (2n = 44).  Leaflets medium to large.  Flowers, white, often with a greyish-violet spot on the standard (occasionally slightly bluish) turning yellowish orange on senescence.  Pods are straight, hairy, with the hairs directed toward the apex.  Cross-pollination frequent.  A vigorous variety, with numerous leaves.  Recommended over other types in Kenya.
(CPI 28279)
Queensland, Australia (1976) Institutional collection from Zimbabwe, originally collected in Malawi.  Tetraploid (2n = 44).  Usually less branched and with less stolon development than 'Tinaroo' and 'Cooper'.  Leaves generally larger and darker green than 'Tinaroo' or 'Cooper', and with more glabrous appearance than 'Clarence'.  Leaf hairs semi-erect, brown on the leaf margins and veins.  Pods brown, retrorsely hirsute.  Flowers white with violet-purple markings on standard.  Distinguished from 'Tinaroo' by longer racemes, more appressed hairs on the stem and young leaflets, and darker green leaves;  from 'Cooper' by time of flowering and hair colour;  and from 'Clarence' by time of flowering and hair prominence;  distinguished from other cultivars by retrorsely hirsute pods.  Establishment and early growth slower than 'Clarence' and 'Cooper' but similar to 'Tinaroo'.  Seasonal growth pattern, time of flowering and seeding are also similar to 'Tinaroo'.  Selected for performance on soils of pH below 6, which are less suitable for other cultivars.
(PI 319479)
Tanzania Adapted to lower rainfall environment.  Grows naturally at Itigi (5.7ºS, 34.5ºE, 1,300 m asl, rainfall 600 mm).
(Q 2056, PI 355918, PI 379646)
Queensland, Australia (1962) Institutional collection from Kenya.  Diploid (2n = 22).  Stems moderately hairy, hairs brownish, semi-erect to appressed.  Leaflets almost glabrous.  Flowers creamy white with obscure small violet streaks on the lower part of the standard .  Seedling development slower than 'Clarence' and 'Cooper'.  Grows longer into the cool season than these two cultivars.  Commences flowering early to mid-June, with seed maturing in September at 27ºS.
'Tropic Verde'
(PI 224980, HA 1129)
Hawaii, USA (1992) From Zimbabwe.  Morphologically similar to 'Tinaroo', but with finer stems - also somewhat earlier flowering.  Less hairy than 'Cooper' and 'Clarence'.  Drought tolerant, high yielding, palatable and excellent for erosion control.  Comparable yields to 'Tinaroo', 'Cooper' and 'Clarence', with and without supplemental irrigation.  Although well considered by farmers, 'Tropic Verde' is no longer recommended due to concerns about difficulty of management and weediness potential.

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



IRI No. 1 (SP1) Brazil More tolerant of high soil manganese than 'Tinaroo', but less productive than 'Tinaroo' where manganese is not excessive.
M218 Tanzania Successful in lower rainfall climate at Kilosa (700-800 mm).

The following varieties have been identified as having value in various parts of the tropics, but specific information is not available:
'Choma' (CPI 18419, CPI 30367, PI 275762, PI 379639):  From Choma, Zambia.
'Citrus' (CPI 25421, CPI 30528, CPI 30535, PI 379642):  from Mazowe, Zimbabwe (17.5ºS, 31ºE, 1,230 m asl, rainfall 850 mm).
'Domasi' (CPI 25700):  from near Zomba, Malawi (15.4ºS, 35.3ºE, 900 m asl, rainfall 1,400 mm).
'Grasslands' (CPI 30360, CPI 30495).
'Gunson' (CPI 30529).
'Kingsize':  no information.
'Melsetter' (CPI 30641, PI 379643):  from Skyline Junction, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe (19.5ºS, 32.5ºE, 750 m asl, rainfall 1,130 mm).
'Nelspruit' (CPI 28277).
'Norval's Special' (CPI 28278, CPI 30498, CPI 30362).
'Nyasaland' (CPI 28279): = 'Malawi'.
'South African':  no information.