Crotalaria is a large genus of over 500 species; there are about 30 native to Australia and a number of exotic species have become naturalised. They are generally small to medium shrubs or herbaceous species and are known as “rattlepods” because the seeds are loose in the pods. Some species, including C.novae-hollandiae, contain toxins which accumulate in the liver and produce long-term damage which is often fatal to both humans and animals.
There are 3 recognised sub-species of Crotalaria novae-hollandiae:
- C. novae-hollandiae subsp. novae-hollandiae
- C. novae-hollandiae subsp. crassipes
- C. novae-hollandiae subsp. lasiophylla
New Holland Rattlepod is a small, densely-foliaged shrub to about a metre in height. The dark green leaves are about 30mm long, oval shaped and tapering to a point at the apex. The yellow pea flowers occur in racemes and are followed by clusters of brown seed pods anout 30 mm long. Flowering is primarily in winter and spring.
This plant is not common in cultivation but should be suited to warm climates. However, due to the toxicity of the foliage it is probably best avoided as a garden plant.
Propagation is from seed, which germinates readily after treatment in boiling water, or from cuttings.
Photo: Brian Walters