Tephrosia candida

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Local names:
Bengali (bangara), English (white hoary pea,hoang pea,white tephrosia), French (indigo sauvage,requie'nie), Hindi (boga medalo,kulthi,lashtia,masethi), Indonesian (enceng-enceng,poko tom,kapeping badah), Javanese (enceng-enceng), Pidgin English (pis pea)

Tephrosia candida is an erect herb, shrub or small tree, up to 3.5 m tall, with straggling branches from the base. 

Leaves spirally arranged, imparipinnate; stipules 5-11 x 0.8-1.5 mm, often caducous; rachis (including the petiole) up to 22.5 cm long, with brown indumentum, 6-13 pairs leaflets, opposite, narrowly ovate, elliptical to narrowly obovate, 1.3-7.5 x 0.5-1.7 cm, glaucous green, soft, with silvery indumentum, base and apex acute, long-mucronate, venation distinct below.

Inflorescence a terminal, axillary or leaf-opposed pseudo-raceme, 2.5-40 cm long; basal bracts few, leaflike, upper bracts narrowly triangular, 2.2-6 x 0.5-1.5 mm, often caducous; flowers in fascicles of 5-13, 13-26 mm long, white, silky, with dark brown hairs on the outside; calyx campanulate, standard broadly ovate to obovate, 13-25 x 11-25 mm, apex rounded to emarginate, acuminate, claw 1-5 mm long, wings 12-20 x 5.5-13 mm, glabrous, claw 1-4.4 mm long; keel 11-20 x 3-10 mm, glabrous, lateral pockets sometimes bulging, claw 1.5-5 mm long, stamens 10, vexillary filament free at base, connate half way, other filaments alternately longer and shorter.

Pod linear, 7-12 cm x 0.5-1 cm, green or brown with silky hairs, slightly convex around the 10-15 seeds. Seed broadly ovoid, 4-5.5 x 3-4 mm, brown or greyish-brown with dark patches.

The specific name means pure white in Greek.

Ecology

The habitat of T. candida is primary and secondary forest, higher locations in sago-palm swamps and disturbed places such as roadsides, riverbanks, steep slopes and fields. It grows in the seasonally dry tropics and does not tolerate frost or waterlogging.

Native range
India

Tree management

T. candida is deep rooting and slow to establish but grows steadily thereafter. Young plants should be kept free from weeds. On poor soils, it responds well to fertilizers, especially phosphorus. On fertile soils, 25-30 t/ha of green matter can be harvested annually in 3 cuttings. Maximum growth normally takes place in the 2nd year after planting, but with regular pruning a dense cover can be maintained for many years. Spacings of 40-90 x 10 cm are reported for intercropping, depending on the associated crop.
Produces biomass of about 12-18 t/ha per year when mixed with cassava, and 20-40 t/ha per year or more in monoculture.

Seed storage behaviour is orthodox. No loss in viability following 3 years in either open storage or hermetic storage at room temperature with 13% ± 2% mc. There are between 300 and 500 seeds/kg.

The habitat of T. candida is primary and secondary forest, higher locations in sago-palm swamps and disturbed places such as roadsides, riverbanks, steep slopes and fields. It grows in the seasonally dry tropics and does not tolerate frost or waterlogging.

Before sowing, seed is soaked for 4-5 hours. It should be sown just before or during the rainy season. The germination rate of fresh seed is 95-100%, but viability decreases rapidly unless seeds are stored in a cool, dry place. When broadcasting, a planting density of 50 000-60 000/ha is aimed at, requiring 15-20 kg seed.

Poison: Powdered leaves are used as an insecticide. There are unconfirmed reports of the bark and roots being used as a fish poison.

The species is suitable for rehabilitating degraded land.

Erosion control: Planted to provide ground cover between perennial crops. 

Fodder: The leaves of T. candida are high in protein and can be used as fodder for pigs and cattle. 

When the species becomes woody with age, it provides suitable fuelwood.

Shade or shelter: In newly planted perennial crops such as citrus, coconut, coffee, rubber and tea, it is grown as a temporary shade crop.

Nitrogen fixing: Forms root nodules with Bradyrhizobium and fixes large amounts of atmospheric nitrogen.

Ornamental: T. candida is occasionally utilized as an ornamental. 

Suitable for making hedges along contours, around fields and homegardens, as it is not eaten by domestic animals such as buffaloes and goats. It is commonly used for hedgerows, providing mulch for different upland crops.

Soil improver: T. candida not only provides nitrogen but also raises soil phosphorus and potassium levels in proportion to increased levels of organic matter. Soil structure improves, water-holding capacity and permeability increase, and soil losses caused by water erosion decrease. It can yield well on acid soils; for example, in Vietnam, green-matter content of the soil increased from 1.7 to 4%.

Intercropping: T. candida is widely grown in mixed cultivation, for example with pineapple, maize and other annual crops, and it is said to improve the quality of tobacco. Cassava is a shade-sensitive species and needs regular lopped hedgerows, for which T. candida is a very suitable species. It has been tried as an alley crop with cassava planted in 7-m-wide interrows. Preliminary results indicate a greatly increased yield of cassava and a considerable reduction of erosion.