Centrosema pascuorum

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cv. Cavalcade - a sprawling/twining annual.

Leaflet shape and flower of cv. Cavalcade.

Pods and seeds.

Foliage and flowers of cv. Cavalcade.

Suitable for ley-farming.

Massed twining stems of a seed production plot.

cv. Cavalcade used for hay production in tropical Australia.

From:‘t Mannetje, L. and Jones, R.M. (1992) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4. Forages. (Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands). © Prosea Foundation.

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Scientific name

Centrosema pascuorum Mart. ex Benth.


Bradburya pascuora (Mart. ex Benth.) Kuntze


Family: Fabaceae (alt. Leguminosae) subfamily: Faboideae tribe: Phaseoleae subtribe: Clitoriinae. Also placed in: Papilionaceae.

Common names

centurion, centro.

Morphological description

Centrosema pascuorum is an annual, twining herb that can root from the nodes of trailing stems under moist conditions.  Stems are cylindrical, glabrous or scarcely pilose, extending up to 2 m from the crown.  Leaves are trifoliolate, often held erect and paraheliotropic especially during dry periods.  Petioles are 25-50 mm long, glabrous to scarcely pilose .  Leaflets of the Australian cultivars are long (50-100 mm) and narrow (5-10 mm) and give a C. pascuorum sward, from some distance, a grass-like aspect;  however, in the available collection there exists also great variation in leaflet shape.  Inflorescences are racemose;  flowers are borne singly or in pairs at the end of a short peduncle.  The corolla is wine red to crimson, 15-25 mm long and wide.  Flowers are predominantly self-pollinated.  Pods are linear to slightly curved, 4-8 cm long and 3-4 mm wide, laterally compressed with a dark longitudinal stripe.  They contain up to 15 seeds and shatter violently at maturity up to 1 m wide thus allowing dispersal of seeds.  Seeds are ovoid to cylindrical, approx. 4 mm long, greenish-yellow to brown and rarely mottled.  Thousand seed weight of C. pascuorum ranges from 6.8-28.9 g, cv. Cavalcade has a weight of 21 g (48,000 seeds/kg) and cv. Bundey 17 g (58,000 seeds/kg).


Native to:
C. pascuorum is a tropical lowland species, found naturally at altitudes between 20 m and 1,000 m.  Its geographical distribution spans from almost 17°N in Mexico to almost 20°S in Brazil.  Main areas of distribution are semi-arid northeast Brazil, the Pantanal, coastal Ecuador, northern Venezuela and Guyana, and Mesoamerica from southern Mexico to Panama;  most commonly it is found in northeast Brazil and Venezuela.  Annual rainfall at sites of origin is between 350 and 1,500 mm (usually below 1,000 mm), with 4-10 dry months.  Soils at the collection sites are mostly of medium to high fertility.  Recently, a subtropical form was found in the Paraguayan Chaco.


C. pascuorum is suitable for mixtures with grasses, or in pure stands for ley-farming.  It makes excellent hay;  each year, there are 5-6,000 ha sown for hay production in Australia.  More recently farmers in the Northern Territory, Australia, are growing cv. Cavalcade to produce legume cubes.  Hay giving yields of about 7 t/ha is cut with a rotary head cutter and dried in the field to 10% moisture.  Bales are shredded and mixed with bentonite (a volcanic-ash clay material containing Fe, Mg and either Na or Ca), sprayed with water to 12% moisture and then cubed under very high pressure.  In 1997, 8,000 t of Cavalcade cubes were produced.  Two pelleting plants operate at Katherine and Tortilla.  Cavalcade hay and pellets provide feed on boats for 300,000 head live cattle exported from Darwin to Indonesia and the Philippines.  C. pascuorum stands persist through a seed bank.  For hay production, renovation every 3 or 4 years is recommended to maintain a pure stand.  In ley farming, the C. pascuorum phase is able to provide 80-100 kg/ha N to the system.


Soil requirements

C. pascuorum is adapted to a wide range of soils, from sand to heavy clay and from slightly acid to alkaline soils (pH 5-8.5).  Requires medium to high soil fertility .  Occasionally, e.g. in the Pantanal of Brazil, found at sites with some seasonal flooding stress.


C. pascuorum is adapted to tropical areas with pronounced dry seasons of up to 8 months;  700-1,500 mm rainfall per year are suitable.  Though individual plants die off under drought conditions, populations persist through escape mechanisms such as annual life span, rapid growth and flowering, and high seed production.  Morphologically, the narrow leaflets and phototropism (i.e. erect leaves oriented towards sunlight), osmotic and stomatal adaptation are also adaptation mechanisms to drought .


Poor frost tolerance .


No information available.

Reproductive development

Not much information is available on the photoperiod response of C. pascuorum but flowering time appears to be related to sites of origin and cv. Cavalcade is known to be a short day plant.  Good seed producer.


Moderate tolerance to grazing and cutting.


No information available.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Seed scarification (heat treatment or sulphuric acid) is advisable to reduce hardseededness.  In soils without previous legume cultivation, C. pascuorum responds to inoculation with appropriate rhizobium and mycorrhiza.  In Colombia, nearly three times the N produced with inoculation compared with uninoculated plants.  Strain CB1923 is highly effective.
Centrosema pascuorum is established by seed, at a seeding rate of 2-6 kg/ha.  For seed production and hay crops of cv. Cavalcade in Australia, seeding rates up to 10-15 kg/ha are reported to ensure good plant stands.  Some soil disturbance is crucial to ensure good establishment.  C. pascuorum is best sown, drilled or broadcast, in a cultivated seed bed at a depth of 1-2 cm.  Best time for sowing is the start of the wet season.  It is advisable to control weeds during establishment.


Superphosphate fertilization will enhance establishment and growth.  Depending on soil conditions, for establishment 100-250 kg/ha, for maintenance 50-100 kg are recommended.

Compatibility (with other species)

Cvv. Bundey and Cavalcade mix well with grasses such as Cenchrus ciliaris Brachiaria decumbens Urochloa mosambicensis , Andropogon gayanus , Setaria sphacelata and Panicum maximum .

Companion species

Grasses:  Cenchrus ciliaris Brachiaria decumbens Urochloa mosambicensis , Andropogon gayanus , Setaria sphacelataPanicum maximum .

Pests and diseases

A number of diseases and pests have been reported for C. pascuorum , however without causing major damage, e.g., little leaf mycoplasma , centrosema mosaic virus and other diseases such as Cercospora canescens (leafspot), Colletotrichum truncatum (anthracnose), Pseudocercospora bradburyae (leaf spot), Rhizoctonia solani (foliar blight) and Neocosmopora vasinfecta, also sucking insects during seed production.  Susceptibility to root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) needs to be taken into account when C. pascuorum is to be used in rotation with crops.  Pagria flea beetle (Pagria sp.) has been reported to cause severe damage in northern Australia in both cvv. Bundey and Cavalcade.

Ability to spread

Self-regenerating annual, adventitious roots on trailing stems.

Weed potential

No information available.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

C. pascuorum is a high quality forage with good palatability .  Crude protein content and digestibility vary according to plant age and season from 6-27% and 42-79%, respectively.  Mineral contents are similar to C. molle .


C. pascuorum is highly palatable.


No information available.

Production potential

Dry matter

For pure C. pascuorum stands, DM yields of 4-9 t/ha/year are reported.

Animal production

In Australia, daily liveweight gains of 460-540 g/animal during the main dry season and in three consecutive years of cattle on a cv. Cavalcade ley pasture, in comparison with liveweight losses of 140-240 g/animal on native pasture .  Also in semi-arid/dry sub-humid Northern Territory (Australia), C. pascuorum remained the dominant pasture component after 5 years of stocking at 3.3 steers/ha, consistently producing dry-season liveweight gains of 20-50 kg/ha.


2n = 22.  Self-pollinating species.  Selection emphasis in Australia is on forage yield and flowering date.  Cv. Cavalcade is the result of an Australian breeding program (1976-1981), which aimed at the development of a cultivar with high forage and seed yields, and nematode resistance.

Seed production

C. pascuorum flowers 2-5 months after sowing.  In one study, a negative correlation between seed yield and time to flowering were found, but there was no consistent relationship between seed yield and seed size.
For seed production well-drained sandy loams are best suited.  At least 5 kg/ha seed are sown, with fertilization according to soil properties:  a general recommendation is 150-250 kg/ha superphosphate for establishment, and 100-150 kg/ha superphosphate and 50-100 kg/ha muriate of potash for maintenance.  For reliable seed production cvv. Cavalcade and Bundey need rainfall of at least 1,000 and 1,100 mm, respectively.  Seed is suction-harvested (slow and energy consuming), or stands are mown prior to pod shattering followed by use of conventional harvester.  Seed yields of 250-1,500 kg/ha are reported.

Herbicide effects

No information available.



Other comments


Selected references

Anning, P. (1982) Evaluation of introduced legumes for pastures in the dry tropics of North Queensland. Tropical Grasslands, 16, 146-155.
Barbosa-Fevereiro, V.P. (1977) Centrosema (A.P. de Candolle) Bentham do Brasil - Leguminosae - Faboideae. Rodriguésia, 29, 159-219.
Cameron, A.G. (1996a) Bundey. NT-DPIF Agnote 427. Centrosema pascuorum Martius ex Benth. In: 't Mannetje, L. and Jones, R.M. (eds) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4. Forages. pp. 84-86. (Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands).
Clements, R.J., Winter, W.H. and Reid, R. (1984) Evaluation of some Centrosema in small plots in Northern Australia. Tropical Grasslands, 18, 83-91.
Clements, R.J., Winter, W.H. and Thomson, C.J. (1986) Breeding Centrosema pascuorum for northern Australia. Tropical Grasslands, 20, 59-65.
Lenné, J.M. (1994) Diseases of Centrosema. In: Lenné, J.M. and Trutmann, P. (eds). Diseases of Tropical Pasture Plants. pp. 197-225. (CAB International, Wallingford, UK, CIAT, Cali, Colombia, and NRI, Chatham Maritime, UK).
Ludlow, M.M., Chu, A.C.P., Clements, R.J. and Kerslake, R.G. (1983) Adaptation of species of Centrosema to water stress. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology, 10, 119-130.
McCosker, T.H. (1987) Agronomic and grazing evaluation of 3 lines of Centrosema pascuorum under seasonally flooded conditions in the Northern Territory. Tropical Grasslands, 21, 81-91.
Schultze-Kraft, R. and Keller-Grein, G. (1985) Testing new Centrosema germplasm for acid soils. Tropical Grasslands, 19, 171-180.
Schultze-Kraft, R. and Clements, R.J. (eds) (1990) Centrosema: Biology, Agronomy , and Utilization. CIAT Publication No. 92, Cali, Colombia .
Sylvester-Bradley, R., Souto, S.M. and Date, R.A. (1990) Rhizosphere biology and nitrogen fixation of Centrosema. In: Schultze-Kraft, R. and Clements, R.J. (eds). Centrosema: Biology, Agronomy , and Utilization. Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia. Publication No. 92. pp. 151-174.
Stockwell, T.G.H., Clements, R.J., Calder, G.J. and Winter, W.H. (1986) Evaluation of bred lines of Centrosema pascuorum in small plots in north-west Australia. Tropical Grasslands, 20, 65-69.
Thiagalingam, K., Zuill, D. and Price, T. (1997) A review of Centrosema pascuorum (centurion) cvv. Cavalcade and Bundey as a pasture legume in the ley farming system studies in North West Australia. Proceeding, XVIII International Grassland Congress, Winnipeg-Saskatoon, Canada. Vol. 1:10, 43-44.
Thomson, C.J., Clements, R.J. and Schultze-Kraft, R. (1997) An evaluation of seventy-one accessions of Centrosema pascuorum at Katherine, Northern Australia. CSIRO Genetic Resources Communication, 25, 1-14.

Internet links




Country/date released


'Cavalcade' Australia (1984) For the semi-arid tropical regions with a 5-8 months dry season.
'Bundey' Australia (1986) Late-flowering, suited to wet-dry tropical regions, seasonally flooded for long periods.  Provides valuable dry season grazing.

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



None reported.