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Published In: Species Plantarum 2: 713. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/29/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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Aeschynomene L.

Plants annual (perennial herbs or shrubby elsewhere), robust. Stems erect or strongly ascending (prostrate elsewhere), branched, unarmed, glabrous or more commonly hairy, the hairs simple or glandular with a swollen pustular base, the lower portion forming adventitious roots if submerged. Leaves sensitive to touch and light, alternate, even-pinnately compound (in our species), short-petiolate, the leaflets numerous (fewer elsewhere), mostly subopposite. Stipules conspicuous on young growth but usually shed with age, herbaceous, lanceolate, peltate, with a small lobelike appendage below the point of attachment, tapered to a sharply pointed tip, the margins often toothed and/or hairy; stipels lacking. Leaflets oblong to elliptic-oblong, oblique at the base, abruptly short-tapered to a minute sharp point at the tip, the margins usually entire, the surfaces glabrous, but the undersurface often minutely gland-dotted, 1-veined. Inflorescences few-flowered racemes, sometimes appearing as loose stalked clusters, spreading to somewhat pendant, sometimes with 1 to several small pinnately compound leaves toward the base of the stalk, the stalk often glandular-hairy and sticky, the bracts subtending the flowers similar to the stipules but often smaller. Calyces appearing 2-lipped, the tube short, the upper lip entire or 2-lobed, the lower lip entire or 3-lobed. Corollas papilionaceous, glabrous, yellow to orange, sometimes striped or tinged with red or purple, the petals tapered to a short stalklike base; the banner broadly ovate to nearly circular; the wings narrowly obovate; the keel oblanceolate and curved in outline, boat-shaped. Stamens 10, the filaments all fused, the tube split on 1 side or more commonly deeply on 2 sides into 2 groups of 5 stamens each, the anthers small, attached near the midpoint, all similar in size. Ovary linear, short-stalked, often hairy, the style glabrous, curved, the stigma small and terminal. Fruits loments, elongate, flattened, stalked at the base, the terminal segment short-tapered to a sharply pointed tip, the upper margin straight or slightly curved, the lower margin scalloped, the surfaces sparsely glandular-pustular hairy, often longitudinally wrinkled and/or with medial rows of small pustular-based warty projections, breaking into 5–12 indehiscent, 1-seeded segments. Seeds kidney-shaped, the surfaces smooth, somewhat shiny. About 130–160 species, widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of both hemispheres, with few native and several introduced species in temperate regions.

Aeschynomene species often grow in seasonally flooded areas such as rice paddies and marshes, and often dominate these communities. Neither of the two species present in Missouri was known to Steyermark (1963). They are very similar and can be difficult to distinguish. Useful characters for identification include the size of the fruits and segments, distribution of pubescence on the stems, size of the leaves and leaflets, floral bract morphology, and overall size of the flowers (Carulli et al., 1988; Perry et al., 1998). However, there is significant overlap in the size ranges of these characters and consequently much room for misidentification. Both A. indica and A. rudis are members of a wide-ranging, pantropical, weedy complex of weakly differentiated species (Rudd, 1955). However, allozyme data (Carulli and Fairbrothers, 1988) support the distinctness of A. indica and A. rudis, at least in the eastern coastal United States. Plants apparently are self-fertile, and crosses between the two species produced no offspring or infertile offspring. Both A. indica and A. rudis have the potential to become weeds in rice fields. This habitat is ideal for them ecologically and the seeds are about the size and weight of rice grains, making their removal from harvested rice difficult and expensive.


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1 Upper portions of the stem glabrous or sparsely hairy; leaflets 5–10 mm long; hairs of petiole and inflorescence stalk mostly gland-tipped, yellowish; floral bracts entire or indistinctly toothed; mature fruits smooth or slightly wrinkled, sometimes with minute warty projections to 0.2 mm long, the segments 4–5 mm long, 4–5 mm wide Aeschynomene indica
+ Upper portions of the stem moderately pustular-hairy; leaflets 8–16 mm long; hairs of petiole and inflorescence stalk not gland-tipped, whitish; floral bracts distinctly toothed, the teeth tipped with pustular hairs; mature fruits usually with prominent warty projections to 1 mm long, the segments 5–6 mm long, 5–6 mm wide Aeschynomene rudis
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