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Macroptilium atropurpureum – Wikipedia

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**Description and Taxonomy:**
– Macroptilium atropurpureum is a tropical herbaceous dicot in the Fabaceae family.
– It develops dense, hairy, dark green vines with bright green trifoliolate leaves and dark reddish purple flowers.
– The plant forms a deep swollen taproot up to 2cm in diameter.
– Taxonomically, it belongs to the Kingdom Plantae, Family Fabaceae, Genus Macroptilium, and Species atropurpureum.

**History, Distribution, and Invasiveness:**
– Commonly known as Siratro, Aztec, purple bush-bean, or conchito, it is native to Central and South America, the Caribbean Islands, and some regions in southern North America.
– Introduced in Australia in the 1960s for livestock pastures, it has become invasive in New Caledonia since 1963.
– It has a history of use as pasture, ground cover, and for its nitrogen-fixation abilities.
– Classified as an invasive plant in Australia, it rapidly spreads, displaces native vegetation, competes with crops and pastures, and poses a threat to biodiversity.

**Growing Conditions and Benefits:**
– Macroptilium atropurpureum grows well in varied soil types and can be propagated naturally by bursting legumes.
– It thrives in soils with pH levels from 5.0 to 8.0 and requires 15-111cm of precipitation.
– The plant improves milk yield in cows, yields in goats, and acts as a protein source for animals.
– It is rich in nutrients, with high protein content, primary amino acids, and essential minerals.
– The plant fixes nitrogen, controls erosion, revegetates low-fertility land, and improves soil quality.

**Limitations and Management Strategies:**
– Considered a pest plant in some regions, Macroptilium atropurpureum has negative effects on native vegetation and is intolerant to poor water drainage.
– It is susceptible to foliar blight in heavy rainfall and has limitations in terms of soil and weather conditions.
– Management strategies include integrated weed management approaches, herbicide application, mechanical methods like mowing, and biological control using specific insects.
– Monitoring and early detection are crucial for effective management of the plant.

**Agricultural and Environmental Significance:**
– The plant is used as a forage crop in some regions, fixes nitrogen in the soil, and can improve soil fertility.
– It provides erosion control, acts as a weed suppressor, competes with weeds for soil nutrients, and fixes nitrogen at significant rates.
– Macroptilium atropurpureum is beneficial in agroforestry systems, used in banana plantations to improve fruit yields, and has been studied for its impact on soil communities and nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

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