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Alyce clover (Alysicarpus vaginalis)


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Common names 

Alyce clover, buffalo clover, one leaf clover, white moneywort, pannata (Hawaii); false moneywort [English]; trèfle à une feuille [French]; trifoglio d'alice [Italian]; trebol alicia, maní cimarrón (Cuba); yerba de contrabando (Puerto Rico) [Spanish]; gadagi [Hausa]; lussak, senkello [Nigerian]; sõ̀káma ána [Mali]; tolubele [Sierra Leone]; bundiya, buyaayi [Burkina-Faso]]; 链荚豆 (Chinese]; brobos, gudé oyod, tebalan [Indonesian]; akar seleguri [Malaysia]; banig-usa, mani-manian [Philippines]; thua lisongna [Thailand]; cây me dât, cây the the, đậu vảy ốc,đậu mũi mác, me đất [Vietnam]; သံမနိုင်ကျောက်မနိုင် [Burmese]; നില ഓരില [Malayalam]; ササハギの仲間 [Japanese]


Alysicarpus nummularifolius sensu auct., Alysicarpus nummularifolius (L.) DC., Alysicarpus nummularifolius (L.) DC. var. angustatus Ohwi, Alysicarpus vaginalis (L.) DC. var. diversifolius Chun, Alysicarpus vaginalis (L.) DC. var. nummularifolius Miq., Hedysarum cylindricum Poir., Hedysarum vaginale L.

Taxonomic information 

Alyce clover is also a vernacular name used for Alysicarpus ovalifolius.

Feed categories 

Alyce clover (Alysicarpus vaginalis (L.) DC.) is a highly variable perennial or annual forage legume from tropical and subtropical areas.


Alysicarpus vaginalis is an erect or spreading to prostrate (under heavy grazing) forage legume, up to 0.6-1 m in height. It is usually perennial but can be annual under dry conditions. It is very variable in habit and flower colours. It is often woody at the base with many (10-100) glabrous or slightly pubescent stems rooting at the nodes. Alyce clover is moderately leafy. The leaves are shortly petiolated and unifoliate. The limb is reticulated on both surfaces, finely hairy, ovate to oblong elliptic in shape, 5-20 (-65) mm long x 3-10 (-25) mm wide. The inflorescence is axillary or terminal, 1.5-7 (-13) cm long. It holds 6-12 (-16) papillonaceous, orange-pinkish flowers. The pods are pubescent, small, 1.2-2.5 cm long x 2-2.5 mm wide and slightly constricted. The seeds are 1-2 mm long, oval or oblong-shaped, yellow, light brown or dark red in colour, often speckled. There are 400 to 650 seeds/g (Wagner et al., 2014; Lewis et al., 2005; Cook et al., 2005; Duke, 1981).


Alysicarpus vaginalis is mainly grown for pasture and hay, and as a cover and green manure crop (Wagner et al., 2014; Lewis et al., 2005; Cook et al., 2005; Duke, 1981).


Alysicarpus vaginalis is thought to have originated from the Old World tropics and has then been introduced in other tropical and subtropical parts of the world. It can be found wild and cultivated. It became naturalized in northern Australia (especially in the Northern Territory), in South America and the United States (Halim et al., 1992). It is considered as a weed in Thailand, Hawaii, the Philippines, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Fiji, India, New Guinea, west Polynesia, Trinidad, and mainland USA (Halim et al., 1992). It is referred to as an invasive species in Cuba (Datiles et al., 2014). Alysicarpus vaginalis is a common weed in lawns in Asia, adapted to frequent defoliation and grazing. In such conditions, it behaves as a perennial, while it usually behaves as an annual in seasonally dry climates (Halim et al., 1992).

Alyce clover is found from tropical dry to subtropical moist climates from sea level up to 1400 m altitude (in the tropics). It grows where annual rainfall ranges from 700 to 1000 mm and average annual temperatures range from 18 to 27°C. It can withstand up to 4200 mm rainfall if on well-drained soils. It does not tolerate waterlogging. The leaves are killed by light or moderate frost, but only heavy frost kills the plant (Datiles et al., 2014; Cook et al., 2005; Halim et al., 1992; Duke, 1981). Alysicarpus vaginalis grows on a wide range of soils including heavy clays though it prefers lighter ones (coraline and sandy soils). It does well on neutral to slightly basic soils (pH ranging from 5.5 to 8.5) but still grows (poorly) on very acidic and low-fertile soils at pH = 4.5. It does not do well on saline soils. Alyce clover responds to P and K fertilizers when growing on less fertile soils (Datiles et al., 2014; Cook et al., 2005; Halim et al., 1992; Duke, 1981). Alyce clover is moderately tolerant of shade and can be used as a cover crop in rubber plantations or as a companion legume.

Forage management 

Alysicarpus vaginalis reseeds naturally. Seeds are seldom available and require scarification prior to planting. It has been sown into disc strips at 10-15 kg/ha in Mississippi and Florida. Seeds for immediate germination should be scarified but does not require specific inoculant.


Alysicarpus vaginalis can yield good quality hay if the crop is harvested before over maturity and if it is dried and baled without significant leaf loss. Cutting should occur whent the stand is between 45 and 60 cm high. It should not be cut under 7-10 cm to prevent the removal of growing buds,which could compromise plant growth. Alyce clover can withstand a second cutting under favorable growing conditions. However, as it is mostly planted late, only one hay cutting is made when flowering starts (Vendramini et al., 2000). Tall erect plants cut at or near ground level may not recover quickly (Cook et al., 2005). It is possible to use Alysicarpus vaginalis for green forage through summer and to cut for dry forage in fall (Duke, 1981).


Alysicarpus vaginalis can be used in pastures for lactating dairy cows. Dairy producers who need to supplement grass production in late summer and early autumn may benefit from planting it. Alyce clover can be grazed after the plants are about 30 cm tall. The animals should be removed after the plants are grazed down in order to permit regrowth. It is very tolerant of continuous, heavy grazing and regular mowing. Under heaving grazing conditions, the plant habit changes from erect to prostrate. Overgrazing could allow weeds to invade the stand. The first growth may be grazed down and animals removed and regrowth used for hay or seed production (Vendramini et al., 2000).

Mixed stands

Alysicarpus vaginalis can be cultivated in association with grasses (Stenotaphrum secundatum, Bothriochloa pertusa, Dichanthium caricosum) or legumes (Grona heterophylla). It thrives with native grasses provided they are naturally creeping, heavy grazed or frequently cut (Cook et al., 2005).


Hay yields of 4–6 t/ha have been reported in the southern United States. In Sri Lanka, a mixture of alyce clover and Brachiaria brizantha (or with Brachiaria dystachia and Paspalum dilatatum) yielded 12.5 t DM/ha with N and P fertilizer. In Florida, alyce clover combined with Digitaria decumbens was one of the lower yielding legumes. Though it yielded 8.5 t/ha compared to 5.2 t/ha for grass alone, its contributions to total DM yields were low for a naturalized component of perennial grazed pastures (Cook et al., 2005).

Environmental impact 

Soil fertilizer and soil conservation

Alysicarpus vaginalis is grown for green manure (N-fixing legume) and soil conservation as it provides effective erosion control on newly established terraces. It has been used as a cover crop in Papua New Guinea and in rubber plantations in Java (Halim et al., 1992).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Like other legumes, Alysicarpus vaginalis is a protein fodder but its protein content is moderate, about 17% DM in average, ranging from 12% to more than 20%.

Potential constraints 

Alysicarpus vaginalis was reported as not causing bloat in cows, presumably due to the presence of condensed tannins (Cook et al., 2005).


Alysicarpus vaginalis is well liked by cattle and horses. Sheep were reported to like it in the same way as alfalfa and Aeschynomene americana. Alyce clover has the advantage over introduced temperate legumes of not causing bloat in cows. It is often grown as a summer annual for hay or pasture as a substitute for alfalfa (Göhl, 1982).


The in vitro organic matter digestibility measured in two different dates (September and October) in Florida is 47.5 and 43.3 % (Williams et al., 1992) or higher (70.4%) in another context (Jardines et al., 2000). After long rainy season,  a very low in vitro DM digestibility of 26.3 % was recorded (Nicodemo et al., 2015).


When compared to Centrosema pascuorum both offered ad libitum as sole feed to rams (23 to 27 kg), the dry matter intake for Alyce clover tended to be higher, and the dry matter digestibility was higher (73.5 vs 62.7 %) (Yashim et al., 2006).

Beef cattle

In Louisiana, Aberdeen-Angus steers fed on alyce clover hay supplemented with cottonseed meal (0.45 kg/day) during 74 days had a weight gain of 0.43 kg/day which was comparable to that obtained with alfalfa (0.5 kg/day) and higher than that obtained with bermuda grass hay (0.34 kg/day). In another trial, stocker steers and heavy steers grazing alyce clover pastures during late summer gained an average 0.6 kg/head/day over those grazing pastures of Sorghum bicolor X S. sudanense (during the first year) and Pennisetum americanum (over 4 years) (Bagley et al., 1985). Heifers (Bos taurus x Bos indicus) grazing on alyce clover gained more than those grazing pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) (0.94 and 0.80 kg, respectively) (Scaglia, 2016). 

Alyce clover could be grazed continuously for several months by yearling crossbred steers (1 or 2 steers/ha) with a good survival under Florida (Muir et al., 1991) or Cuban climatic conditions (Jardines et al., 2000). In Florida, four-month-old calves gained an additional 130 - 200 g/day until they were weaned when alyce clover was available in a creep pasture (Vendramini et al., 2000). 


Alysicarpus vaginalis is a fodder appreciated by most herbivorous animals (Cook et al., 2005) including rabbits. In Australia, anti-rabbit fences are necessary to protect experimental cultures of this legume from wild rabbits (Strickland et al., 2000). In the USA, it has been advised to sow this forage in coastal counties of the South East countries, to feed wild fauna, particularly deer, turkey and rabbits (Surrency et al., 2001).

Alysicarpus vaginalis distributed ad libitum to growing rabbits as a supplement to concentrates resulted in performance not significantly different from that obtained with the control (Lebas et al., 1997). This annual plant can be used as green forage or hay (Jardines et al., 2000) and is a good source of protein and fibre (Yashim et al., 2006). However, the lysine content just covers the requirements in rabbits and sulphur amino acids are deficient (Duke, 1981).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 29.7   23.8 37.4 3  
Crude protein % DM 16.5 3.3 12.1 24 12  
Crude fibre % DM 30.6 6.9 21.4 39.9 8  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 51.7 7.1 37.2 56.9 6 *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 35.5   34.9 37.8 3 *
Lignin % DM 10   9.3 10.6 2  
Ether extract % DM 3.5 1.7 2.3 6.3 5  
Ash % DM 8.5 2.7 4.9 12.9 8  
Insoluble ash % DM 0.7       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.9         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 14.1 6.4 5.2 24.4 6  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.4 1.2 0.6 4 6  
Potassium g/kg DM 11.2 7 3.9 22.7 6  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.61   0.42 0.8 2  
Magnesium g/kg DM 4.2 1.3 3.4 6.5 5  
In vitro digestibility and solubility Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
In vitro DM digestibility (pepsin) % 69   66 73 4  
In vitro OM digestibility (pepsin) % 70       1  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 64.6         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 61.7         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.7         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.3         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 8.3         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 7.7         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 43.7         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 64.4         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Bhannasiri, 1970; Brink et al., 1988; CIRAD, 1991; Holm, 1971; Jardines et al., 2000; Lim Han Kuo, 1967; Nasrullah et al., 2003; Scaglia, 2016

Last updated on 04/09/2020 17:31:33

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2020. Alyce clover (Alysicarpus vaginalis). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/333 Last updated on September 8, 2020, 17:59