Animal feed resources information system

Cratylia (Cratylia argentea)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 



Cratylia floribunda Benth., Dioclea argentea Desv.

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Related feed(s) 

Cratylia argentea (Desv.) Kuntze is a tropical legume. It is a perennial, deep-rooting shrub reaching between 1.5 and 3 m in height. When associated with taller plants it can show a somewhat voluble habit. However, trees of up to 6 m have been found as well as completely prostrate plants. Leaves are trifoliolate; leaflets are broadly ovate with a silvery pubescence on their under surface. Flowers are arranged in an elongated, many-noded pseudoraceme up to 30 cm long, with 6-9 flowers per node. Size of flowers ranges from 1.5-3 cm (length and width); petals are lilac or, very exceptionally, white. Pods are straight, flat, up to 20 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, dehiscent, containing 4-8 oval to almost circular seeds of about 1.5 cm diameter. Seeds are dark yellow to brown, when maturing under high-humidity conditions, dark brown. Thousand seed weight is about 220 g, i.e. there are about 4,500 seeds/kg (Cook et al., 2005).


Cratylia argentea is found exclusively in South America. Its geographic distribution extends between 4ºS and 18ºS from northeast Brazil to central and west Brazil, and Bolivia and Peru east of the Andes (longitudinal range: 39ºW-77ºW). Collection sites concentrate on the subhumid Cerrados region of Brazil. In comparison with other Cratylia species, Cratylia argentea is found in a wider range of habitats, with altitudes between 180 and 930 m asl , and main vegetation types ranging from Cerrados-Caatinga transition to Cerrados and seasonal forests; soils are mostly well drained, sandy loams. Soil pH 3.8-6.0. Though apparently adapted also to higher pH soils, initial development of Cratylia argentea in such soils is very slow. Reasons are not yet well understood. Needs well-drained soils. From wet to dry tropics, annual rainfall 1,000-4,000 mm. High drought tolerance, stays green in prolonged dry seasons (6-7 months). Particularly well adapted to sub-humid zones, with a 5-6 month dry season (Cook et al., 2005).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The nutritive value of Cratylia argentea is among the highest reported for shrub legumes adapted to acid soils. Crude protein ranges between 18% and 30% of DM, in vitro dry matter digestibility can reach 60-65%. In contrast to many other tropical shrub legumes, Cratylia argentea contains only traces of tannins (Cook et al., 2005).

Potential constraints 

No toxicity recorded (Cook et al., 2005).


Cratylia argentea is readily consumed by cattle, though intake of immature forage by sheep is low. In trials with milking cows, a mix consisting of Cratylia argentea and sugar cane for supplementation of pasture resulted in an increase of 1.2-2.2 litres milk/cow/day in response to Cratylia argentea increments in the supplement mix. Response to Cratylia argentea was limited when cows of minor production potential were utilised or when the basal grass diet had protein levels above 7%. Supplementation with Cratylia argentea silage led to an increase in milk production of 0.5-1 L/day (Cook et al., 2005).

In Columbia, in growing Zebu and Zebu x San Martinero bulls, supplementation with sugarcane and the forage legume Cratylia argentea gave better weight gains where animals were grazing fertilized signal grass than when they were supplemented in a corral. Grazing animals also gave better results with supplementation than without (Rincon, 2005).

No information on the use of Cratylia argentea in rabbit feeding seems available in the international literature (February 2017). Nevertheless this legume shrub is able to
 produce a forage devoid of any known toxicity (Cook et al., 2005) and is considered suitable to feed dairy cattle (Gama, 2008; Ibrahim et al., 2001) or small ruminants (Raaflaub et al., 1995). Thus, this forage green or dried should be most probably also suitable to feed rabbits.
However some direct experiment are necessary before its recommendation as normal forage for rabbits. For such studies, the main characteristics of Cratylia argentea forage are to be taken in account : a relatively high content in proteins (16-25%), fibre rich in lignin : about 50% NDF and 10-11% ADL (Osuga et al., 2005; Zhou et al., 2011), and a calculated digestible energy content of about 8.7 MJ/kg DM (Lebas, 2016) close to that of alfalfa.
Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 
Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/17365 Last updated on March 28, 2017, 10:30

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