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Showy Rattlebox Crotalaria spectabilis

Phonetic Spelling
kroh-tuh-LAR-ee-uh speck-TAB-ih-liss
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Showy crotalaria, is a flowering plant in the Fabaceae (bean) family. It is an annual herbaceous plant that blooms from August to November. Although it is nonnative to the United States, it was introduced to the southeast United States from the tropics. It spans from Virginia south to Florida and west to Texas. It prefers open fields, wastelands, disturbed sites such as pastures and cultivated fields and roadsides with sandy soil and full exposure to the sun.  

It often competes with pasture grasses and other more desirable plants, and its persistent nature often comes out the winner.  In addition to its self seeding, the seeds from this aggressive weedy plant are often spread by birds and other wildlife. 

Its common name rattlebox is derived from the sound made when shaking the dried seed pods.  Remaining on the plant after the leaves and flowers have died, the dry seeds inside the legume become detached.  Winds blowing the pods create a rattling sound.  

Germination begins in the later part of the summer.  In its first stages of growth, its large 6" leaves give it a similar appearance to a head of lettuce or cabbage.  This rapid growing weed can reach heights of up to 5' tall in a short amount of time.  

In the legume family, it will deposit nitrogen into the soil, thus is sometimes used to improve soil conditions.  This introduction into the environment as a cover crop has increased the spread of a weedy plant.  After its introduction, it was soon discovered to be toxic to livestock and dogs.  All parts of the plant are toxic, with the seeds containing the highest concentration.  To prevent loss of animals, plants should be removed from the premises.  If allowed to remain, they will be toxic, even after the plant has been cut and left to die.  Herbicides to manage the growth and spread is the best means of eradication.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  It can become weedy in disturbed areas.  It is a serious weed for agricultural lands.  It can spread as a contaminant in farm equipment, crop seeds, forages, and hay.  In the Southeast USA, it is listed as a noxious weed.  

 

More information on Crotalaria.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#herbaceous#long bloom time#reseeds#self-seeding#wildflower garden#annual weed#short lifespan#host plant#poisonous to livestock#shade intolerant#annual#pest
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#herbaceous#long bloom time#reseeds#self-seeding#wildflower garden#annual weed#short lifespan#host plant#poisonous to livestock#shade intolerant#annual#pest
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Crotalaria
    Species:
    spectabilis
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Noxious weed
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Indian Subcontinent to Taiwan
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and other insects are attracted to the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Wildlife Larval Host
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Poisonous
    Weed
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1-2 inch inflated legume with around 20 seeds. As the fruit ages, the seeds detach within the legume, allowing them to rattle in the wind.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Elongated terminal racemes with 20 to 30 bright yellow flowers that may have dark lines of red-purple veins at the base of the petal.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    2-6" leaves are widest at the apex and taper to the base. Hairy on the underside. Short petioles and oblanceolate to elliptic.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The ribbed stems are green or purplish and become waxy with age. They are branched above the middle.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Slope/Bank
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Lower blood pressure and heartbeat, stomach irritation
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds