Trefoil Rattlepod

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Crotalaria medicaginea

Family : Fabaceae

Trefoil Rattlepod is a highly variable species, with eight forms recognised across northern Australia. Locally, it is usually seen on sandy beach ridges as a compact small shrub, usually measuring only 0.8 metres high. The leaves are small (5 – 30mm long), in groups of three and spread evenly along multiple erect branches. The flowers are yellow, pea-shaped and borne in clusters at the ends of branches. During the peak flowering period of December to February, the plants often appear as a solid mass of bright yellow flowers. Flowers are followed by a spherical brown dry capsules, which split at maturity to release small kidney-shaped seeds.

Trefoil Rattlepod is an extremely hardy and attractive shrub well suited to sandy soils exposed to sea breezes. As a legume, it fixes valuable nitrogen into sandy soils that are often low in nutrients. The flowers are particularly attractive to insects, including bees, which in turn attract insectivorous birds. Unlike some other species of rattlepod, the Trefoil Rattlepod is not regarded as toxic to grazing stock.


Quick Facts

Flowers December to February
Fruit March to May
Coastal Zone Hind Dune
Fauna Habitat Birds, Bees and Insects
Growth Habit Shrub
Typical Height 0.8m
Soils Well Drained Soils
Amount of Sun Full Sun
Amount of Water Moderately Wet Areas
Salt Tolerance Moderately Tolerant


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Group Incorporated (CTDLI) to the development of this page's information.

Related information

Trefoil Rattlepod © NQ Dry Tropics

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