Green manure cover crops (gmcc) are rapidly growing crops that cover and protect the soil. They are left on the soil surface as mulch or plowed under to enrich soil organic matter content. Legumes are prioritized for their ability to source atmospheric nitrogen through symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Gmcc can be established by seed, but some root at the nodes and can therefore be established from cuttings. ECHO does not provide legume inoculants. An ECHO Technical Note on “Green Manure Cover Crops” is available. Also see the GMCC Selection Tool.


  1. Desmanthus Desmanthus virgatus

    Desmanthus, Hedge Lucerne, False Tamarind, Donkey Bean, Bundle Flower, Dwarf Koa

    Desmanthus is a nitrogen-fixing, prostrate, perennial, tropical shrub that can be used as a green manure/cover crop and as fodder for livestock. This shrub is adaptable to a range of environments and is tolerant of drought.
  2. Flemingia Flemingia macrophylla

    Flemingia

    Flemingia macrophylla is a perennial, deep-rooted, woody, nitrogen-fixing shrub up to 2.5 m in height. It is useful for shade, and for soil conservation and improvement as an alley crop, green manure, or cover crop.
  3. Rice Bean Vigna umbellata

    Rice Bean, Climbing Mountain Bean, Mambi Bean, Oriental Bean, red bean

    Vigna umbellata is a nitrogen-fixing, perennial legume, often grown as an annual. Depending on variety, V. umbellata presents as vining, bush, or semi-erect forms, reaching heights of 30-200 cm. Leaves are trifoliate and bright, yellow flowers are produced in groups of 5-20 per raceme, giving way...
  4. Sesbania sesban Sesbania sesban

    Sesbania Sesban

    Sesbania is a fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing perennial, growing to 7 m in height. It is typically found in wet locations and can withstand water logging and flooded conditions. Sesbania is used as a cover crop or green manure, coppices readily, provides light fuelwood, and good forage for...
  5. Hairy Vetch Vicia villosa

    Hairy Vetch, sand vetch, Sand Vetch, Winter Vetch

    Native to Europe or western Asia, Vicia villosa is suited to cooler climates. It is a viny legume with long, soft hairs on the stems and leaves. Branching, stems/vines are prostrate (30-70 cm), but can climb (up to 1-2 m) stalks of any neighboring plants. Stems support long, hanging groups of...
  6. Cowpea Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata

    Cowpea, Black Eyed Pea, Crowder

    Vigna unquiculata is a grain legume that originates in Africa. Attributes such as vine shape (climbing, prostrate, or semi-erect), seed color (shades of white, pink, brown, and black) and seed maturation time (60 to 240 days) vary with variety. Pods appear in V-shaped pairs.
  7. Sunn Hemp Crotalaria juncea

    Sunn Hemp, Matraca, Indian hemp, brown hemp

    Crotalaria juncea is an annual herbaceaous plant utilized for fiber, forage, and as a green manure cover crop. Reaching heights of 3.5 m, C. juncea bears long, slender, trifoliate leaves and typical, butterfly-shaped blooms similar to other legumes.
  8. Sword Bean Canavalia gladiata

    Sword Bean

    Canavalia gladiata is a perennial, fast-growing, heavily producing, climbing legume. It is widely cultivated in the humid tropics of Southeast Asia, but remains a minor vegetable elsewhere. Plants can reach 10 m in length with a deep, penetrating root system. Leaves are trifoliate, similar to...
  9. Jicama Pachyrhizus erosus

    Jicama, Yam Bean

    Jicama is a perennial, nitrogen-fixing vine, reaching 10 m in length, and grown for the edible tuber. Jicama is also used as fodder, green manure, or cover crop.
  10. Butterfly Pea Clitoria ternatea

    Butterfly Pea, Kordofan Pea, Blue Pea, Asian Pigeon Wings

    Clitoria ternatea is a climbing, vining, tropical legume. Leaves are pinnately compound, each bearing 5-7 leaflets. Flowers occur in singles or pairs, are 4 cm wide, and are colored deep blue or solid white. These give way to pubescent, flat pods, that, upon maturation, dehisce (split and burst...
  11. Slender Leaf Rattlebox Crotalaria ochroleuca

    Sunn Hemp, Slender Leaf Rattlebox

    Crotalaria ochroleuca is an annual herbaceous plant utilized for fiber, forage, and as a green manure cover crop. Reaching heights of 2.5 m, C. ochroleuca bears long, slender, trifoliate leaves and five-petalous blooms (banner, wing, and keel) similar to other legumes.
  12. Fish Bean Tephrosia vogelii

    Fish Bean

    Fish bean is a short-lived perennial, somewhat woody, nitrogen-fixing plant, growing up to 3 m in height. This plant is used for green manure, erosion control, and mulch. It is known to contain rotenoids and can be used as an insecticide and fish poison. Fish bean should NOT be used as fodder for...
  13. Pigeon Pea Cajanus cajan

    Pigeon Pea, Gandules, Congo Pea, Angola Pea, Pwa Kongo, Gandur, Cachito, Ambrevade, Gungo Pea

    Pigeon pea is a nitrogen-fixing, perennial shrub, growing to 4 m in height, that produces green or dry seed in seasonally dry climates. Pigeon peas are adaptable to many soil types and are used as a dry pea, green vegetable, fodder, fuelwood, green manure or cover crop.
  14. Forage Peanut Arachis pintoi

    Forage Peanut

    Forage Peanut is a prostate, nitrogen-fixing, perennial plant, used mostly as a cover crop for erosion, weed, and fire control. It is favored for these purposes in tree plantations, as it will tolerate some shade. It also makes for good cattle and poultry grazing if a 30-day rest period is...
  15. Jack Bean Canavalia ensiformis

    Jack Bean, Horse Bean, Habichuela Espada, Horse Bean, Gotani Bean, wonder bean

    Canavalia ensiformis is native to the West Indies and Central America. It closely resembles Sword Bean, C. gladiata, and the predominantly African wild species, C. virosa. C. ensiformis is widely distributed in the tropics and subtropics although it is regarded as a minor vegetable rather than a...
  16. Bay Bean Canavalia rosea (formerly maritima)

    Beach Bean, Bay Bean, Mackenzie Bean, Seaside jack bean, Coastal Jack Bean

    Canavalia rosea is a leguminous, drought and salt tolerant vine adapted to growing under very dry and hot conditions. Vines are widely distributed on beaches and dunes in the tropics and subtropics, also western and northern Australia. They can reach lengths of 6 m, with a compact canopy 15-30 cm...
  17. Hairy Indigo Indigofera hirsuta

    Hairy Indigo

    Hairy indigo is a reseeding annual, nitrogen-fixing, erect, bushy plant, up to 2.5 m in height. It is used as a forage, summer fallow, green manure, or cover crop.
  18. Lablab Lablab purpureus

    Lablab Bean, Bonavist, Egyptian Kidney Bean, Hyacinth Bean, Dolique, Dolique D'Égypte

    Lablab purpureus is capable of growing in a wide range of climatic conditions and soil types, depending upon the variety chosen. It is widely cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics and occurs wild in tropical Africa (including Madagascar) and India. The palatability of lablab surpasses...
  19. Grass Pea Lathyrus sativus

    Grass Pea, Indian Vetch, Chickling Pea, Indian Pea

    Grass pea is an annual, vining or climbing, drought-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing plant, up to 1 m in height, adapted to cooler temperatures, and higher altitudes in the tropics. It is a multipurpose legume, the seeds of non-toxic forms used for human consumption, and the plant used for forage,...
  20. White Lupine Lupinus albus

    White Lupine, Sweet Lupine

    White lupine is a cool season, nitrogen-fixing, bushy, annual plant up to 1.6 m in height, and adapted to higher altitudes in the tropics. It is mainly used for forage, green manure or cover crops but non-toxic modern varieties have been developed for human consumption.
  21. Siratro Macroptilium atropurpureum

    Siratro, Atro, Surple Bean, Conchito

    The exact origin of this crop is not known but it is commonly grown from southern Texas south to Peru. It was named “Siratro” and first hybridized in the early 1960’s.
  22. Tarwi Lupinus mutabilis

    Tarwi, Andean Lupin, Pearl Lupin, Tarhui

    Tarwi is an erect, annual, cool-season, nitrogen-fixing plant up to 2.5 m in height. For human consumption the seeds must be soaked in water for several days to remove bitter alkaloids. The seeds are high in protein, pressed for oil, and fed to livestock. Tarwi is a good green manure or cover...
  23. Horse Gram Macrotyloma uniflorum

    Horse Gram, Madras Gram, Kulthi Bean

    Horse gram is a dense, low-growing, nitrogen-fixing, annual crop grown for forage and human consumption. It is usually sown as an intercrop but can also be used as a green manure or cover crop. It will tolerate drought conditions, poor soil, and some salinity.
  24. Glycine Neonotonia wightii

    Glycine

    Glycine is a perennial, vining, nitrogen-fixing, green manure or cover crop that may be grown to suppress weed growth, improve the soil nitrogen supply, and slow soil erosion. It is also a forage crop that can be grown in pure stands for hay or in a mixed pasture system.
  25. Velvet Bean Mucuna pruriens

    velvet bean, Bengal Bean, Poil à Gratter, Mucuna, Picapica, Pwa Grate, Fève De Velours

    Velvet bean is a vigorous, nitrogen-fixing, bushy or vining, annual plant. The vines will climb anything available and can reach 10 m or more in length. Velvet bean is somewhat drought tolerant and is an excellent green manure or cover crop with ability to suppress weeds and provide generous...
  26. Tropical Kudzu Pueraria phaseoloides

    Tropical Kudzu, Puero, Kudzu Tropika

    Tropical kudzu is a perennial, vigorous, deep-rooted, vining or climbing, nitrogen-fixing plant, with vines up to 10 m long. This crop tolerates high water levels (even occasional water logging), grows well in the dry season, and can tolerate acidic soils and shade. It is used as a forage, green...
  27. Prickly Sesban Sesbania bispinosa

    Prickly Sesban, Danchi

    Prickly sesban is a fast-growing, annual, nitrogen-fixing shrub, growing up to 2 m in one season. It is valuable for soil improvement, erosion control, firewood, forage, fiber, and as a green manure/cover crop.
  28. Agati Sesbania grandiflora

    Agati, Corkwood Tree, Scarlet Wisteria Tree

    Sesbania grandiflora is a small, fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing tree, that can grow to 10 m height in 3-4 years. This plant is grown mainly as a green manure or cover crop but can also be used as forage for livestock.
  29. Adzuki Bean Vigna angularis

    Adzuki Bean, Azuki Bean

    Adzuki bean is a bushy or vining, nitrogen-fixing, annual plant that is moderately drought tolerant. This bean grows best in temperate climates or higher altitudes in the tropics. The young pods, fresh seeds and dry beans are used for human consumption.
  30. Fava Bean Vicia faba

    Faba Bean, Broad Bean, Fava Bean, Windsor Bean

    Vicia faba is an annual herbaceous plant from the legume family, usually considered to contain three subspecies: V. faba ssp. major (broad bean), V. faba ssp. equina (horse bean), and V. faba ssp. minor (tick bean or pigeon bean). Plants are upright, reaching heights of 1.5-2 m. Leaves of V. faba...
  31. Mung Bean Vigna radiata

    Mung Bean, Mung, Moong, Mungo, Greengram

    Vigna radiata is an annual, erect or semi-erect legume, reaching heights up to 1.25 m. V. radiata produces 4-30 yellow or green flowers per cluster that become pubescent pods. Leaves are alternate and trifoliate.
  32. Calliandra Calliandra calothyrsus

    Calliandra

    Calliandra is a vigorous, nitrogen-fixing, bushy tree that can be fast-growing on poor soils. The tree responds well to coppicing, is a good fuelwood source and the leaves provide excellent fodder. Calliandra is used to enrich soil and provide stability on steep slopes.
  33. American Joint Vetch Aeschynomene americana

    American Joint Vetch, Deer Vetch, shyleaf

    Aeschynomene americana is an annual legume forage crop and green manure cover crop. Considered a “subshrub,” A. americana can reach heights of 1-2 m. Pinnately compound leaves are finely textured, with 25-60 leaflets per leaf. Borne on pubescent stems, leaves reach 7.5 cm in length. Flowers...
  34. Sesbania Sesbania rostrata

    Sesbania

    Sesbania rostrata is an annual—or short-lived perennial—legume used as a green manure cover crop and fodder species for livestock. Growing to heights of 3 m, S. rostrata is one of the few legumes that produces nodulated stem tissues for further colonization by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Leaves of...
  35. scarlet runner bean Phaseolus coccineus

    Scarlet Runner Bean, runner bean

    Phaseolus coccineus is a perennial, vining legume from Central America. Due to its red, showy flowers, P. coccineus is often grown as an ornamental, though nearly all parts of the plant are edible, given the appropriate preparations. A climbing vine, P. coccineus reaches heights of 3-5 m, and...
  36. Bush Velvet Bean Mucuna pruriens

    Velvet Bean, Bengal Bean, Mucuna, Picapica, Pwa Grate, itchy bean

    Bush forms of Mucuna pruriens grow rapidly, but have a more compact growth habit than vining types. The leaves are large and trifoliate with lateral leaflets 7–15 cm long, 5–12 cm wide. Flowers are light purple or white, resulting in pods 4-13 cm in length. Wild forms of M. pruriens have pods...
  37. Tithonia Tithonia diversifolia

    Mexican sunflower, Tree Marigold

    Mexican Sunflower is a woody, perennial, plant with showy yellow flowers growing to 3 m in height. It can be used as an ornamental, hedge, compost ingredient, fodder, green manure, and soil erosion control. Mexican sunflower is known to be efficient in extracting phosphorus from the soil. Green...
  38. Cereal Rye Secale cereale

    Winter rye, Common rye, Cultivated rye

    Secale cereale is an upright, annual, cool season, grain-bearing grass. A tufted grass with hollow stems, S. cereale reaches heights of 2 m. The blue-green leaves are borne on tillers, supported by extensive root systems that extend up to 2 m in the soil. Spike flowers give way to heads of pale...
  39. Bambara Groundnut Vigna subterranea

    Bambara bean, Earth pea

    Vigna subterranea is an annual, herbaceous, nitrogen-fixing legume of particular importance throughout semi-arid Africa. Leaves are trifoliate and are borne along creeping stems that extend along the ground surface. Flowers are yellow and butterfly-shaped, similar to other legumes. Upon...