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Lotus, Greater
(Lotus pedunculatus)

  • temperate legume for subtropics
  • tolerates wet, acid and infertile soils
  • lower phosphorus requirement than clovers
  • does not cause bloat.

Lotus cv. Maku Grasslands grows best in high-rainfall coastal areas. This tall-growing perennial is a good pioneer legume for very wet and waterlogged areas, and is recommended for lower hillslopes, creek flats and drainage lines of coastal Queensland and New South Wales. It will tolerate a wide range of soils including those too acid for other temperate legumes and those subjected to short-term waterlogging, but not salinity.

The very small seed should be inoculated with specific rhizobium before being sown in autumn. Lotus can be planted in a prepared seed-bed or oversown into heavily grazed pastures.

Maku can be sown alone or with setaria, rhodes grass or kikuyu grass, but these should be grazed well during establishment to protect the legume.

Maku pastures are best grazed to a sward of 5-7 cm height, then rested in late summer for the plants to develop short rhizomes. The main period of growth is spring, but it continues growing well into summer. Maku is reasonably palatable although it has a fairly high tannin content. It does not cause bloat.

A new selection, cv. Sharnae, is earlier flowering than Maku, and so might escape the damaging heat of summer in the subtropics. Sharnae is generally more robust; it appears superior to Maku under drier conditions, and might be more resistant to root knot nematodes. Tannin levels are higher.

Creator: Ian Partridge,
Date created: 14 April 1998  Revised: 15 January 2003

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