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FutureStarrCrotalaria juncea seeds
Crotalaria is found throughout the world, some forms growing as annuals and others as perennials roots in moist shady places, such as under deciduous trees.The genus includes over 700 species of herbaceous plants and shrubs. Africa is the continent with the majority of Crotalaria species (approximately 400 species), which are mainly found in damp grassland, especially in floodplains, depressions and along edges of swamps and rivers, but also in deciduous bush land, roadsides and fields. Some species of Crotalaria are grown as ornamentals. The common name rattlepod or rattlebox is derived from the fact that the seeds become loose in the pod as they mature, and rattle when the pod is shaken. The name derives from the Ancient Greek κρÏŒταλον, meaning "castanet", and is the same root as the name for the rattlesnakes (Crotalus).
Crotalaria longirostrata, also known as longbeak rattlebox or chipilín, is found in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Oaxaca and is a popular addition to many local dishes. The edible portions of the plant are the leaves and shoots, which are cooked and served as a leafy green vegetable or desiccated and used as an herb. The foliage contains high amounts of calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid, while the seeds and roots are considerably toxic.The primary source of toxicity for many species of Crotalaria is the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are poisonous to birds and large mammals. The two kinds of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are found in Crotalaria plants are monocrotaline and spectabiline. Monocrotaline is most toxic to the pulmonary vasculature and is used in animal studies to induce pulmonary arterial hypertension for human modeling. Both alkaloids show clinical hepatotoxicity and carcinogenicity.
They can be found in the leguminous seeds, foliage, stems, or roots of Crotalaria plants. Species with higher concentrations of pyrrolizidine alkaloids yield greater toxic effects compared to those with lower concentrations. In addition, species that contain only monocrotaline are more poisonous than species that contain only spectabiline at equal concentrations within the seeds, leaves, stems, or roots. There are no confirmed species to this date that contain both spectabiline and monocrotaline; a Crotalaria plant can only have either one or the other. Thus, plants that are less toxic and therefore more appropriate for human consumption carry only low concentrations of spectabiline. According to one study, species that display the greatest toxicity include Crotalaria spectabilis Roth, C. retusa L., C. alata Leveille, and C. quinquefolia L. Species that are least toxic include Crotalaria australis Bak. Ex Verdoorn, C. maxillaris Klotzsch, C. sphaerocarpa, C. juncea L, and C. brevidens Benth., among many others. (Source:en.wikipedia.org)