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A wide variety of plants can be used as pasture and forage crops in the tropics.  Of these, a few are particularly important due to their wide adaptability, ease of growth, high yield potential, and high nutritional value. Most of these are either grasses or legumes. The majority of the grasses herein are highly suitable for permanent pastures, although a few are usually cut and carried to the animals. Unfortunately, there are few legume and grass combinations that are compatible in pastures of the tropics; however, we do have several legumes suitable for mixed pastures and are eager to hear how they grow in various areas. An ECHO Technical Note on Forages is available.


  1. Desmanthus Desmanthus virgatus

    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. Tick Trefoil Desmodium rensonii

    Desmodium rensonii is an erect, nitrogen-fixing, perennial shrub. This species is one of the preferred plants for the SALT (Sloping Agricultural Land Technology) technique developed in the Philippines in the 1980’s. It is an excellent hedgerow and alley cropping plant that produces good amounts...
  3. Greenleaf Desmodium Desmodium intortum

    Greenleaf desmodium is a vining, nitrogen-fixing, perennial legume adapted to tropical and sub-tropical climates. It is a good forage in mixed legume/grass pastures.
  4. Evenia Aeschynomene evenia (Aeschynomene indica L.?)

    Aeschynomene evenia is a short-lived perennial. Evenia fares well in areas that have an abundance of rain as it tolerates waterlogging and maintains its nutritive content when other grasses are declining. Seeded in very early spring in tropical pasture land, it will be well established in 2-3...
  5. Silk Tree Albizia lucida

    Albizia lucida is a nitrogen-fixing reforestation tree that grows quickly and tolerates poor soil and waterlogging. Timber from this tree is used for furniture, construction, and pulp. It can also be used as high protein fodder and a shade tree.
  6. White Clover Trifolium repens

    White clover is a low, spreading, nitrogen-fixing perennial, that provides nutritious forage and is usually grown in grass/legume pasture systems. It can also be used as a green manure or cover crop.
  7. Hairy Vetch Vicia villosa

    arvejilla vellosa

    Hairy vetch is a temperate, annual, nitrogen-fixing, vining plant that can be up to 70 cm in height. It is used for pasture, hay, silage, green manure or cover crop, and is tolerant of acid soil.
  8. Caupi (Cowpea) Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata

    Caupi (Cowpea)

    Una arveja silvestre que es muy similar a esta variedad cultivada es nativa de África central y con muy pocas diferencias ahora se cultiva en todo el mundo donde las temperaturas son moderadas.
  9. Avena De Grano Desnudo

    La avena se cultivó por primera vez en Asia, pero no apareció en la historia registrada como una cosecha cultivada hasta mucho después del trigo.
  10. Turnip Brassica rapa var. rapifera

    Turnips are a cruciferous crop (cabbage family) grown for the edible fleshy taproot. The leaves are also a good nutritious green leafy vegetable. There are also varieties that have been developed as a forage crop.
  11. Roundleaf Cassia Chamaecrista rotundifolia

    Roundleaf cassia is a short-lived perennial, nitrogen-fixing shrub, growing up to 1 m tall. It is adapted to sandy soils and semi-arid environments. It provides good quality forage for livestock and is used as a legume in mixed grass/legume pasture systems.
  12. Centurion Centrosema pascuorum

    Centurion is a fast-growing, annual, prostrate, nitrogen-fixing, drought-resistant, nutritious forage species for the seasonally dry tropics. It is an excellent legume for mixed pastures and is also planted as a hay crop.
  13. Tree Lucerne Chamaecytisus prolifer

    Tagasaste

    Tree lucerne is a fast-growing, nitrogen fixing, shrub or small tree. It produces high yields of palatable, nutritious fodder as well as shade for livestock. It can also be used for fuelwood and bee forage.
  14. Desmodium Desmodium heterocarpon

    This species of Desmodium is a nitrogen-fixing,short-lived perennial shrub. It does well in mixed legume/grass pastures and provides good quality forage.
  15. Finger Millet Eleusine coracana

    Finger millet is a short, annual grass to 1 m in height, grown for its small grains that are usually ground into flour for porridge. More drought tolerant than maize or sorghum, finger millet is also higher in protein, fat and minerals than those crops.
  16. Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum

    Grano Sarraceno

    Buckwheat is a temperate, or high altitude tropical, annual, upright plant growing to 1 m in height. It is grown for the seeds which are used for human consumption and livestock feed. Buckwheat is also useful as a green manure or cover crop.
  17. Mani Forrajero Arachis pintoi

    Mani Forrajero, Maní Pinto, Maní Perenne

    El cacahuete forrajero es una hierba perenne nativa de Brasil que se encuentra en toda América del Sur y que forma una cola corta y densa de crecimiento. Es una leguminosa fijadora de nitrógeno que tolera un poco de sombra.
  18. HABA DE CABALLO- Jack Bean Canavalia ensiformis

    Haba De Caballo Jack Bean, Pallar De Los Gentiles, Haba De Burro

    El haba de caballo es oriunda de las Antillas y Centroamérica. Ésta se asemeja mucho al frijol canavalia, Canavalia gladiata, una especie de habichuela cultivada del Viejo Mundo, y a la especie silvestre predominante africana debido a la gran semejanza en las tres especies. Hoy en día el haba de...
  19. Beach Bean Canavalia maritima

    Beach bean is a perennial, nitrogen-fixing, slightly woody, salt-tolerant vining plant adapted to growing under very dry and hot conditions. Vines are widely distributed on beaches and dunes in the tropics and subtropics. They can reach lengths of 6 m and the compact mass of vines can be 15-30 cm...
  20. Hairy Indigo Indigofera hirsuta

    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.
  21. FRIJOL LABLAB Lablab purpureus

    Frijol Lablab, Judía, Habichuela, Poroto De Egipto

    El frijol Lablab es generalmente considerado como originario del sudeste de Asia. Sin embargo, algunas autoridades ubican su origen en África en donde es conocido desde el siglo octavo. En la actualidad es ampliamente cultivado a lo largo del trópico y sub-trópico.
  22. Grass Pea Lathyrus sativus

    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,...
  23. White Lupine Lupinus albus

    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.
  24. Siratro Macroptilium atropurpureum

    Siratro is a vining or climbing, nitrogen-fixing plant, perennial in the tropics, with stems up to 5 m long. Siratro is grown for forage and mainly used in mixed grass/legume pastures, but is also used as a fallow crop, for erosion control, and as a green manure or cover crop.
  25. White Hoarypea Tephrosia candida

    This 2-3 m (7-10 ft) high member of the pea family, White Hoarypea, was first grown in the tropical foothills of the Himalayan mountains of India. Since then it has been introduced into Southeast Asia, the West Indies, South America and some African countries. It is a nitrogen-fixing, perennial...
  26. Alfalfa Medicago sativa

    alfalfa

    Alfalfa is a low-growing, nitrogen-fixing perennial, with a strong taproot. Many varieties of alfalfa have been developed for excellent hay and forage. It has long been one of the most important forage species for livestock production.
  27. Glycine Neonotonia wightii

    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.
  28. Frijol Terciopelo Velvet Bean, Frijol Terciopelo

    El frijol terciopelo es originario de la China y del este de la India, donde una vez se lo cultivaba comunmente como vegetal.
  29. Proso Millet Panicum miliaceum

    Proso millet is an erect, tillering, annual grass, growing to 1 m in height, that is grown for the small seeds used for human consumption and livestock food. Proso millet was one of the earliest cultivated grains in the world. It is fairly drought tolerant and has a short growing season.
  30. Pearl Millet Pennisetum glaucum

    Pearl millet is an annual, tillering grass, growing to 4 m in height, and more drought tolerant than maize. The seed head is compact, cylindrical and up to 30 cm long. The grains are ground into flour for preparation of porridge, flat breads and fermented products. Pearl millet is widely grown...
  31. Shrubby Stylo Stylosanthes scabra

    Shrubby Stylo is of South American origin having spread through Brazil into most tropical countries. ECHO distributes three types of Stylosanthes: S. guianensis, S. scabra, S. hamata.
  32. Common Stylo Stylosanthes guianensis

    Common stylo is a vigorous, nitrogen-fixing, perennial shrub, growing up to 1.2 m in height, that is often used in grass/legume pasture mixes. It is adapted to poor, acid soils, provides good forage into the dry season, and can be used as a green manure or cover crop.
  33. Sorgo de Grano Sorghum bicolor

    Sorgo De Grano

    El sorgo fue encontrado primero creciendo en Etiopía. Ahora es un alimento diario para 300 millones de personas en África, India, la China, y otras áreas de los trópicos calientes y secos. El sorgo es el cuarto cereal más importante en el mundo especialmente donde cantidades de lluvia y altas...
  34. Crimson Clover Trifolium incarnatum

    Crimson clover is a temperate, annual, nitrogen-fixing plant that can grow to 1 m in height. This clover is grown for seed, hay, silage, pasture for most livestock, and soil improvement. It is widely grown as a winter crop to be tilled under in the spring.
  35. Red Clover Trifolium pratense

    Red Clover is a temperate legume native to moist meadows, cool, open forests and field borders of central Europe, India and south of the Russia Arctic. It is now widely cultivated around the world.
  36. Tebeneque Stylosanthes hamata

    Tebeneque

    El tebeneque es indígena en sitios semiáridos en las islas de la Cuenca de las Antillas. Se supone que también es nativa en el sur de Florida y en regiones costeras de Sud América y Centroamérica cerca al Caribe. Se reporta su presencia en Venezuela, Colombia, y porciones de Brasil. La especie es...
  37. MAÍZ Zea mays

    Maíz

    El cultivo del maíz era conocido en partes de México y Centroamérica en tiempos precolombinos. El uso del maíz (corn en inglés) se ha extendido a muchas otras regiones templadas, subtropicales y tropicales del globo en donde es conocido como maíz (maize en inglés). Entre los cereales de grano, la...
  38. Leucaena Leucaena diversifolia, L. leucocephala, L. pallida X L. leucocephala

    Leucaena is a multipurpose tree species that can withstand almost any type or frequency of pruning or coppicing. It is native to Mexico and Central America, and now abundant in the Philippines, West Africa, Nepal, Australia and Hawaii. Spanish sailing vessels reportedly introduced Leucaena to...
  39. American Joint Vetch Aeschynomene americana

    Pega Pega

    American jointvetch is an erect, annual, or short-lived perennial shrub that grows well in moist locations. It a good forage legume for low, wet areas and drainage ditches, and can also be used as a green manure and cover crop.
  40. Foxtail Millet Setaria italica

    Foxtail millet is an annual grass crop, up to 1.5 m in height, and one of the most water efficient (250-300 mm per crop), short term (60-70 days), warm weather crops which can be used as a “catch” crop, planted after another crop has failed. The grain can be cooked whole or ground into flour....
  41. Guazuma Guazuma ulmifolia

    Guasimo, Guácima

    Guazuma is a small to medium-sized tree that grows up to 30 m tall. Its leaves form a compact, rounded canopy, remaining green throughout the year except in areas with a long dry season. It is used as a source of fuelwood, shade, and fodder for livestock.
  42. Stylosanthes macrocephala Stylosanthes macrocephala

    Stylosanthes macrocephala is a nitrogen-fixing, low-growing, perennial shrub growing up to 80 cm in height. It is similar to S. capitata, adapted to poor, acidic soils, and provides good forage for livestock.
  43. Stylosanthes capitata Stylosanthes capitata

    Stylosanthes capitata is a short-lived perennial, nitrogen-fixing, small shrub grown for forage. It is suitable for acidic soils and is usually grown in mixed pastures.