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Leaves and Flowers. Copyright CSIRO

Scale bar 10mm. Copyright CSIRO

10th leaf stage. Copyright CSIRO

Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. Copyright CSIRO

Cajanus reticulatus



Scientific Name

Cajanus reticulatus (Aiton) F.Muell.

Mueller, F.J.H. von (1883) Systematic Census of Australian Plants : 41.

Common name

Nalta Jute; Jute; Tossa Jute; Tussa Jute


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1-1.5 m tall.


Compound leaf petiole conspicuously grooved on the upper surface. Middle leaflet usually larger than the lateral leaflets and on a longer stalk. Leaflet blades about 30-80 x 25-50 mm, upper surface bullate, both the upper and lower surfaces clothed in pale hairs. Small yellow glands visible with a lens on both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade.


Pedicels about 5-6 mm long, clothed in long erect hairs. Calyx very hairy, tube about 3-4 mm long, lobes about 6-10 mm long. Petals: standard about 12 mm long; keel about 13 mm long. Stamens 10, the filaments of nine stamens fused to form a tube about 9-11 mm long open on one side, one stamen free. Ovary elongated, densely hairy. Style glabrous, about 7-10 mm long.


Fruits flat, about 2-3 cm long, constricted between the seeds, calyx persistent at the base and the style persistent at the apex. Seeds transverse, about 4 or 5 per fruit. Seeds about 3 mm long, funicle forming a distinct caruncle or aril at the base.


First pair of leaves simple, opposite, leaf blades about 12-18 x 7 mm, upper and lower surfaces clothed in pale hairs and small yellow globular glands. Third leaf trifoliolate. Stipules hairy, about 2 mm long. Seed germination time 13 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from 400-1000 m. Usually grows in open forest but also found in vine thickets and monsoon forest. Also occurs in New Guinea.

Natural History & Notes

A very variable and widely distributed species. Apparently not palatable to stock.

Roasted roots were eaten by Aborigines. Hacker (1990).

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)


Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)



Dolichos reticulatus Aiton, Hortus Kewensis 3: 33(1789), Type: Endeavour River, Jun-Aug 1770, Banks & Solander (BM, holo).

RFK Code