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Alyce clover (Alysicarpus ovalifolius)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Alyce clover, false moneywort (FAO, 2010).


Hedysarum ovalifolium Schum.

Taxonomic information 

Alyce clover is also used for Alysicarpus vaginalis.

Feed categories 

Alyce clover (Alysicarpus ovalifolius (Schumach. & Thonn.) J. Léonard) is an erect or spreading annual herbaceous legume (sometimes woody at the base) very variable in size (2-60 cm tall) and in shape (Mannetje, 2002; Jamnadass et al., 2006). The stems are decumbent, slightly pubescent when young and almost glabrous with age. The single leaves are alternate; leaflets are oblong or narrowly lanceolate, 1-10 cm long × 0.5-3 cm broad. Inflorescences are pseudo racemes, sometimes panicled. Flowers are orange-buff to pink or reddish-violet. Fruits are indehiscent oblong pods of 18-25 mm; seeds are oblong-ellipsoid, 2.5 mm × 1.5 mm × 1.2 mm (Mannetje, 2002). Alysicarpus ovalifolius is very similar to Alysicarpus rugosus or Alysicarpus glumaceus during the vegetative stages, thus difficult to identify (CIRAD, 2010).

Alysicarpus ovalifolius is a protein-rich fodder valuable for all types of livestock. It is available during the rainy season and in early stages of drought periods (FAO, 2010). It is very palatable to animals that graze in rangelands. It may be used as bush straw or bush hay in sheep diets (ICRISAT, 2005). In Niger, it is a valuable component of vegetation collected and traded as fodder (Mannetje, 2002). It is a weed in millet crops but exploited as a fodder (Lamers et al., 1996). However, it was not cultivated until recently (FAO, 2010). An attempt was made in Burkina Faso to sow Alysicarpus ovalifolius in order to enhance the value of natural pastures and it proved to settle efficiently after sowing (Kiema et al., 2006).


Alysicarpus is native to tropical Africa, Madagascar, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia. It is widespread throughout the tropics. Alysicarpus ovalifolius usually grows in savanna and is also frequently found in croplands (as a weed) and fallow lands. It is common in Soudano-Sahelian countries where it grows in natural pastures with Cenchrus biflorus and Zornia glochidiata (FAO, 2010). Alysicarpus ovalifolius withstands drier conditions and heavier grazing than Alysicarpus rugosus thanks to its capacity to flower and set seeds very quickly (Grouzis, 1988). Optimal growth conditions are 200-600 mm annual rainfall on sandy soils. It grows from sea level up to an altitude of 900 m. It has medium drought tolerance (FAO, 2010; Mannetje, 2002).

Environmental impact 

Alyce clover is an N-fixing legume (Mannetje, 2002).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Alysicarpus ovalifolius is a protein fodder. In Central Mali, the crude protein content of Alysicarpus ovalifolius samples, collected from sites with different soils and rainfall regimes, varied from 9.4 to 21.8% DM, with 63% of the samples containing 12.5 to 15.6% crude protein (Breman et al., 1984). In a survey in Niger of dried Alysicarpus ovalifolius weeds (from millet crops) sold on local markets, crude protein varied from 14.1% to 31.1%, but decreased with increasing age of the plant at harvest.

Potential constraints 

Contents of total tannins (0.6-0.8 g/kg DM) and condensed tannins (0.05-0.15 g/kg DM) were relatively low (Lamers et al., 1996).


Ruminant ME estimated from the gas production method increased up to 49 days after planting millet, reaching 7.1 MJ/kg DM and decreased thereafter. 

As a weed in millet crops, Alysicarpus ovalifolius is well appreciated by farmers in Niger (Lamers et al., 1993). It is also considered valuable in pastures (Floret et al., 2000). However, it is usually present as one species among others in the pasture and rarely evaluated alone (Lamers et al., 1996; Compère et al., 1990). In Senegal, a pasture mixture of Alysicarpus ovalifoliusCenchrus biflorusDactyloctenium aegyptium and other species had a digestibility of 70% in the wet season and 53% in the dry season. Sheep gained 78-100 g/d in the wet season but did not maintain weight in the dry season. Cattle could graze part of the area during the wet season, with the remaining area supplying sufficient straw to maintain the cattle during the dry season (Compère et al., 1990).


As of February 2021, no information seems available in the international literature on the use of Alysicarpus ovalis in rabbit feeding. However, this annual forage legume is consumed and relished by local domestic ruminants in Africa in the Sahelian area (Ahoudji et al., 2016; Karimou et al., 1998; Lamers et al., 1993). Its weeds are, for example, collected by men and sold on local market to feed the livestock (Lamers et al., 1995). Because other plants the same genus (e.g. Alysicarpus vaginalis or A. rugosus) are normally used to feed rabbits (Heuzé et al., 2020; Sridhar et al., 2007), and because different extracts of Alysicarpus vaginalis were experimented with rats without health problem, it can be assumed that Alysicarpus ovalifolius is a suitable forage for rabbits.

The great variability of the chemical composition and thus of nutritive value of the forage must be underlined, inducing e.g. a calculated digestible energy content ranging from 3 to 8 MJ/ kg DM according to the stage or Lebas, 2016).

Nutritional tables

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 28.8 8.2 19.3 41.1 7
Crude protein % DM 15.8 4.7 5.2 21.2 11
Crude fibre % DM 30.4 6.1 22.7 45.1 11
ADF % DM 32.8 1
Ether extract % DM 2.1 0.5 1.3 2.8 9
Ash % DM 11.0 4.1 6.5 20.9 11
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 10.7 3.2 6.2 15.5 10
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.9 0.6 0.5 2.6 10
Potassium g/kg DM 22.2 6.5 15.4 30.9 8
Sodium g/kg DM 0.1 0.1 0.1 2
Magnesium g/kg DM 3.1 0.6 2.3 3.9 8
Manganese mg/kg DM 66 4 62 70 4
Zinc mg/kg DM 34 5 27 39 4
Copper mg/kg DM 10 3 7 13 4
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 64.8 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 61.9 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.2 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.9 *

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


Bartha, 1970; CIRAD, 1991; FUSAGx/CRAW, 2009

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:28

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 95.4 93.4 97.3 2
Crude protein % DM 11.0 9.3 12.7 2
Crude fibre % DM 31.9 31.5 32.2 2
Ether extract % DM 2.1 1.3 2.8 2
Ash % DM 9.0 8.0 10.0 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.2 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 9.7 9.2 10.3 2
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.1 1.0 1.2 2
Potassium g/kg DM 11.1 8.4 13.8 2
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.6 2.2 3.1 2
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 60.1 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 56.6 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.3 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.3 *

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


CIRAD, 1991

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:28

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Boval M., Lebas F., 2021. Alyce clover (Alysicarpus ovalifolius). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://feedipedia.org/node/572 Last updated on March 25, 2021, 19:32

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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