Alysicarpus vaginalis (L.) DC

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Common names

Alyce clover (United States).
Low spreading summer annual, but in thick stands the stems are more nearly erect and attain a length of up to 1 m. Stems moderately branched and moderately leafy. Leaves, simple and broadly ovate in shape, up to 2.5 cm long. Flowers, reddish yellow or pale purple, borne in racemes of six to 12 flowers each. The seeds, dark red, oval or oblong, 1 to 1.5 mm long.
Native to India, southern Asia, Pacific Islands (Fiji, Tahiti), East Africa; naturalized in South America and the United States.
Main reference
Wheeler (1950).
Self-seeding. Prefers sandy loams, but is very susceptible to nematodes and so is often grown on clay soils. Does not tolerate wet lands; good drainage is a prerequisite. Responded well to nitrogen on Cunnunurra clay in northern Australia, but nitrogen depressed its growth in Cockatoo sand (Parbery, 1967b). Responds to phosphorus but not to potash. Grows commonly on coral sand in Tanzania and Tahiti and in clay loams on basaltic slopes in Fiji (Payne, 1955).
Rhizobium requirements
Non-specific; does not require inoculation.
Sown in spring to midsummer at the rate of 11 to 16 kg./ha of scarified or machine-hulled seed on a fine seed bed at a depth no greater than 1 cm and lightly covered or rolled. Used primarily as a hay crop in Mississippi and Florida, United States, and is a useful component of natural grazing with Desmodium heterophyllum and Atylosia scarabaeoides on basaltic slopes at Sigatoka, Fiji.
Provides green grazing in the hot dry months of August and September in the southern United States. When harvested for hay is cut in early bloom with an ordinary mower and raked as soon as drying permits. Dries readily and can be baled the following day. Hay yields average from 3 750 to 6 500 kg./ha according to fertility. Parbery recorded 4 050 kg. DM/ha on unfertilized Cunnunurra clay and 5 925 kg. with 40 kg. N. In Holly Springs, Mississippi, United States, unfertilized A. vaginalis yielded 4 340 kg. hay per hectare and a yield of 6 120 kg. was obtained from a dressing of 20 kg. P2O5 plus 10.25 kg. K2O per hectare. Highest yields are obtained from the first crop in any field; subsequent crops decline owing to nematode injury.
Seed crop can be harvested by combine or mown and threshed. Seed yields range from 100 to 300 kg./ha.