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Cajanus reticulatus (Dryand.) F.Muell. 1881
pronounced: kuh-JAY-nuss reh-tick-yoo-LAR-tuss
(Fabaceae – the pea family)
subfamily: Faboideae – the bean subfamily
common name: Nalta Jute
This plant usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1 – 1.5 m tall. The compound leaf petiole is conspicuously grooved on the upper surface; the middle leaflet is usually larger than the lateral leaflets, and on a longer stalk; the leaflet blades are about 3 – 8 by 2.5 – 5 cm, the upper surface bullate, both the upper and lower surfaces clothed in pale hairs. Smaller yellow glands on both surfaces of the leaf blade are visible with a hand lens.
The yellow flowers have pedicels about 5 – 6 mm long, clothed in long erect hairs. The calyx is very hairy, the tube about 3 – 4 mm long, the lobes about 6 – 10 mm long. In the petals, the standard is about 12 mm long, and the keel about 13 mm. There are 10 stamens, the filaments of 9 of them fused to form a tube 9 – 11 mm long open on one side, with one stamen free; the ovary is elongated, and densely hairy; the style is glabrous, 7 – 10 mm long.
The fruits are flat, 2 – 3 cm long, constricted between the seeds, the calyx persistent at the base and the style persistent at the apex. The seeds are transverse, and there are usually 4 or 5 per fruit. Each seed is about 3 mm long, the funicle forming a distinct caruncle or aril at the base.
The plant occurs right across northern Australia, north of a line approximately through Broome, and down the east coast of Queensland, at anything up to 1000 m in altitude. It usually grows in open forest, but is also found in vine thickets and monsoon forest. The plant also occurs in New Guinea. It is a very variable and widely distributed species, apparently not palatable to stock.
The roots were roasted and eaten by the indigenous peoples.
Photographs taken by the West Point Road 2011
Page last updated 1st August 2018