Tree Species
Tephrosia vogelii Hook. f.
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Tephrosia vogelii is a soft, woody branching herb or small tree with dense foliage, 0.5-4 m tall, with velutinous to sericeous indumentum. Stems and branches tomentose with long and short white or rusty-brown hairs. Leaves arranged spirally, imparipinnate; stipules 10-22 x 3-3.5 mm, early caducous; rachis 5-25 cm long, 1.5-5 mm long including petiolule; leaflets in 5-14 pairs, narrowly elliptical to elliptical-oblanceolate, up to 7 x 2 cm, base acute to obtuse, apex rounded to emarginate, venation most distinct on lower surface, silky tomentose. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary pseudo-raceme, 8-26 cm long, rusty tomentose; basal bracts leaflike, peduncle stout, as long as pseudo-raceme; flower 18-26 mm long, fragrant when fresh, white, violet-purple or blue; pedicel up to 23 mm long; bracteoles sometimes present on calyx. Pod linear, slightly turgid, 5.5-14 x 0.8-1.8 cm. Brown or green, woolly to sericeous, 6-18 seeded. Seed ellipsoid to reniform, 5-7 x 3-5 mm, dark brown to black.
The flowers are bisexual, borne in compact clusters. The stigma is receptive when pollen is released, and self-pollination occurs. Large carpenter bees (Xylocopa brazilianorum) have been reported as principal pollinators. Seed set is low.
Soil Suitability
Grows well on andosols not subject to flooding and on well drained loams with pH 5-6.5 and is also tolerant to poor soils with low pH.
Found in widely varying habitats, including savannah-like vegetation, grassland, forest margins and shrubland, wasteland and fallow fields. In acid soils, it grows much better than Leucaena leucocephala, forming root nodules and fixing atmospheric nitrogen where the latter does not. On poor soils, however, T. vogelii grows more slowly and is more prone to diseases.
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Cultivation and Marketing

T. vogelli is native to tropical Africa. It was introduced to tropical America and South and Southeast Asia as a cover crop. It was introduced into Java in 1908 and is now found throughout Malesia.
Commonly propagated by seed. Without treatment, the germination percentage is 65%, and the seedling survival rate about 60%. Soaking in warm water (45 deg. C) stimulates germination.
Under favourable conditions, T. vogelii grows fast and is tolerant to repeated pruning. It is also tolerant to drought, strong wind and grazing, although drought often stops resprouting. Burning has little effect on T. vogelii, as it resprouts readily due to its deep root system. If the plants are weakly branched, they should be lopped to promote branching. For a green-manure crop, the recommended spacing is 40 cm x 40 cm, with 2-3 seeds per hole; when planted for hedges the spacing should be 1.5 m between the rows. For large plantations, sufficient seedlings should be available for replanting in case of a low survival rate. When sown in rows, the recommended sowing rate is 5 kg/ha and when broadcast 8-13 kg/ha. Planting should be done at the beginning or in the middle of the rainy season.
In Java, stems of T. vogelii are liable to serious attacks by Corticium salmonicolor, especially after lopping. When T. vogelii was tested in the USA as a pesticide-producing crop, root-knot nematodes caused very serious damage. In Central Java, Helopeltis spp., a serious pest of cocoa, can also heavily attack T. vogelii. Because of this, the species is no longer recommended for planting in Java.
Orthodox seed storage behaviour; no loss in viability over 2-3 years in open storage. Air-dried seed can be stored in sealed containers for at least 1.5 years. Preferably, fresh seed should be stored for 2 months before planting.
Uses and Function
Shade or shelter: T. vogelii is cultivated in Indonesia as a green manure, windbreak and temporary shade crop in cocoa, coffee, tea, rubber and cinchona plantations. Nitrogen fixing: A known nitrogen-fixing species. Soil improver: In central Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines and peninsular Malaysia it is used as green manure, e.g. in coconut plantations. The nitrogen content is 3.7 g/100 g dry matter in plants 2-3 months old, falling to 1.2 g in 10-month-old material, while the phosphorus content drops from 0.8 g to 0.2 g. Ornamental: Its variously coloured flowers make it suitable as an ornamental. Boundary or barrier or support: Because of its dense growth, it is suitable as a hedge plant.
Poison: Cultivated for insecticide, fish and arrow poison obtainable from the leaves. The poison stupefies fish, which are then easily caught. Dry, crushed leaves are used as insecticide against lice, fleas and ticks, and as a molluscicide. Tephrosine is the poisonous principal. Medicine: Used as an abortifacient, emetic, bactericide, purgative and cure for skin diseases, schistosomiasis, ringworm and parasitic infections. Leaf decoctions are used in the treatment of scabies and yaws; a weak infusion of the leaves is taken as an anthelmintic. Root decoctions are used to treat constipation.