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Desmanthus virgatus


Native to the American tropics and subtropics.


Desmanthus is a nitrogen-fixing tropical shrub legume that can be used as a green manure/cover crop and as fodder for livestock. It grows to 2-3 meters high without clipping and grows back quickly after cutting or livestock browsing. It can also be used as a living fence or in alley cropping. It tolerates drought and can be invasive at low levels of rainfall. The leaves do not contain the toxins (mimosine) found in other legumes such as Leucaena.


Plant seeds in furrows at the end of the dry season. Seeds should be planted 1 cm deep, at a rate of 8-20 kg/ha (depending on furrow distance). Seed can be treated with sulfuric acid for 8 minutes to break dormancy.

La cosecha y producción de semillas

The first cutting should be 90-120 days after sowing. Wait 35-45 days in the rainy season before cutting again, and 45-60 days in the dry season. The optimum height for cutting is 50 cm, at intervals of 45 days. Consistent cutting will produce a broad root crown. Stems are softer than Leucaena and easier to cut. Feed to livestock at 0.8 to 1% of body weight or 20-22% of dry matter ration.


USDA, Agricultural Research Service, National Plant Germplasm System. 2019. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN-Taxonomy). National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. URL: Accessed 15 May 2019.

Heuzé V.Tran G.Sauvant D.Bastianelli D., 2017. Dwarf koa (Desmanthus virgatus). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. Last updated on December 15, 2017, 17:28

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