Zornia glabra

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Foliage (bifoliolate), segmented hairy pods, and seed.

Decumbent to erect with many branching stems.

Pot specimen with flowers and pods.

A Zornia glabrata sward in Colombia.

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Scientific name

Zornia glabra  Desv.


Zornia diphylla (L.) Pers. var. reticulata Benth.
Zornia diphylla (L.) Pers. var. elatior Benth.
Zornia diphylla (L.) Pers. var. perforata (Vogel) Kuntze
Zornia perforata Vogel


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

Morphological description

Perennial herb, with stems erect, to 60 cm tall, branched, largely glabrous.  Leaves bifoliolate, glabrous or puberulent;  lower leaflets lanceolate, acute to 40 mm long, 8 mm broad, the upper leaflets narrower, usually punctate, glabrous above, glabrous or strigose below.  Inflorescence congested;  bracts lance-ovate, acute, to 10 mm long, 4 mm broad, with short-acuminate auricle to 1 mm long, punctate, glabrous, sparsely ciliate;  calyx to 4 mm long, largely glabrous;  standard to 13 mm long.  Loment with 5–7 articles, 2.0–2.5 mm long, 2.0 mm wide, 2.0 mm broad, with numerous retrorsely hairy bristles to 1.2mm long.


Native to:
South America:  French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil.


Not currently used commercially, but may have application in perennial pastures and is being tested for value in intercropping systems.


Soil requirements

Occurs on ultisols in its native environment, and has proven adapted to ultisols and oxisols in the wet tropics elsewhere.  These soils have pH as low as 4, and are of low fertility.


Z. glabra is mostly found in areas with annual rainfall >1,500 mm.


Collection and evaluation data show Z. glabra is adapted to the humid tropics, in areas with average annual temperatures ranging from about 23–27ºC.


Little or no shade tolerance.

Reproductive development



Poor tolerance to trampling damage and short defoliation .


Recovers from soil seed bank and below-ground crown.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Seed sown at 2–3 kg/ha.


Responds to applications of P, K, and S at 20, 20, and 10 kg/ha and FTE on infertile soils.

Compatibility (with other species)

Compatible only with bunch grasses .

Companion species

Grasses:  Andropogon gayanus , Panicum maximum .
Legumes:  Not generally sown with other legumes.

Pests and diseases

Susceptible to bacterial wilt caused by Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens and also to thrips attack, but resistant to scab caused by Sphaceloma zorniae, which affects other Zornia spp.

Ability to spread

Good natural spread by self-sown seed.

Weed potential

Minimal, easy to control by herbicides.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

Leaf (3 months old):  CP 22–26%, P 0.25–0.32%, Ca 0.59–0.82%.


Zornia glabra has fairly low palatability , inferior to that of Centrosema acutifolium , and comparable to that of Desmodium velutinum .


No information available.

Production potential

Dry matter

Moderate yields under savannah conditions in tropical America.

Animal production

No information available.


No information available.

Seed production

No information available.

Herbicide effects

No information available.



Selected references

Cadisch, G., Sylvester-Bradley, R. and Nösberger, J. (1989) 15 N-based estimation of nitrogen fixation by eight tropical forage -legumes at two levels of P:K supply. Field Crops Research, 22, 181–194.
Chavarro, C.A., Lopez, G.C.A. and Lenne, J.M. (1985) Características y pathogenicidad de Corynebacterium flaccumfaciens (Hedges) Dows. agente causal del marchitamiento bacteriano de Zornia spp. y su efecto en el rendimiento de Z. glabra CIAT 7847 y Phaseolus vulgaris. Acta Agronomica, 35, 64–79.
Pizarro, E.A. (1992) (ed.) Red Internacional de EvaluaciÓn de Pastos Tropicales RIEPT, 1a. ReuniÓn Sabanas, 23-26 Noviembre 1992, Brasilia, Brasil. Documento de Trabajo No. 117 . CIAT, Cali, Colombia.
Schultze-Kraft, R., Lascano, C., Benavides, G. and Gomez, J.M. (1989) Relative palatability of some little-known tropical forage legumes. Proceedings of the XVI International Grassland Congress, 4-11 October 1989, Nice, France. pp. 785–786.
Villaquiran, P.M. and Lascano, C. (1986) Abstract 175 . Acta Agronomica, Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Nutritive characteristics of Centrosema macrocarpum ,”late” Stylosanthes guianensis, S. macrocephala and Zornia brasiliensis.

Internet links




Country/date released


No cultivars officially released.      

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



CIAT 7847 Philippines, Llanos Orientales, Colombia, Corrientes Province of north-east Argentina. Agronomic evaluation on low pH (<5) oxisols.  Good performance recorded in Argentina, with DM yields comparable to those of Stylosanthes capitata .
CIAT 8279 and CIAT 8283 Colombia