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Crotalaria spectabilis

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. On highway 601, part of my daily commute, the roadsides at times are a blaze with yellow flowers of Crotalaria spectabilis. There’re a half dozen native Crotalarias but six hundred species worldwide. The perennial invasive one was brought here on purpose, it outgrows the natives, and like all legumes fixes nitrogen in the soil. Sadly, by the time scientists found out that all crotalarias are poisonous it had become invasive. The genus name come from the Greek – crotal – which means rattle and gives rise to the common name of rattlebox as the seed pods rattle when dried – I thought was a reference to a baby’s rattle but crotal is also the root word for rattlesnakes’ genus – Crotalus. So when the dried pods shake do they make the sound of a baby’s rattle or a rattlesnakes warning?

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.