Crotalaria pumila – Low Rattlebox

Crotalaria pumila - Low Rattlebox (yellow flowers)

Crotalaria pumila - Low Rattlebox (orange flowers)

Crotalaria pumila - Low Rattlebox (fruit)

Crotalaria pumila - Low Rattlebox

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Crotalaria pumila

Common Name: Low Rattlebox

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual, Perennial

Growth Habit: Subshrub, Herb/Forb

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert, Upland. It is most common in dry, sandy washes and along roadsides.

Flower Color: Yellow, Reddish yellow-orange

Flowering Season: Summer, Fall

Height: To 1 foot (30 cm) tall or more

Description: The flowers are in terminal and axillary racemes. The individual flowers are pea-like and have lightly to heavily red-streaked banner petals. The flowers are followed by large, plump, green seedpods with depressed seams. When shaken, the dry, brown seedpods make a rattling sound like that of a rattlesnake's tail. When fully dry, the seedpods explode open with an audible pop and eject the seeds a fair distance from the plant. The leaves are bright green, alternate, and trifolate with 3 oblanceolate leaflets. There is a stipule at the base of each petiole.

Special Characteristics

PoisonousCrotalaria species are typically poisonous, and this species is likely no exception.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae – Pea family
Genus: Crotalaria L. – rattlebox
Species: Crotalaria pumila Ortega – low rattlebox

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map