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Rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata)


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Common names 

Rhizoma peanut, perennial peanut, rhizoma perennial peanut, perennial forage peanut [English], arachide pérenne, arachide à rhizomes [French]; amendoim bravo, mendoim do campo baixo [Portuguese]; ถั่วลิสงเถา [Thai]

Feed categories 
Related feed(s) 

Rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.) is a summer growing perennial tropical legume and a relative of the annual peanut (Arachis hypogaea). It provides high yields of forage that is mainly used for pasture, hay and silage production. It is grown in agroforestry, under coconuts or banana trees and can be grown in stand with grasses or other legumes. It is adapted to a range of latitudes. It withstands droughts and thrives on infertile acidic soils. It is a good cover crop and a companion legume for for cool or warm season grains (Cook et al., 2005).


Arachis glabrata is a perennial herbaceous legume that grows mainly in summer and forms dense mat of rhizomes. It remains rather short in height (35-45 cm). Rhizoma peanut is deeply taprooted. The plant develops from long spreading rhizomes. The stems arise from nodes on the rhizomes, and they are erect or decumbent, hollow or pithy, 2-3 mm in diameter. The leaves are quadrifoliate, glabrous to sparsely pubescent. The leaflets are papery, very variable in shape (from linear lanceolate to cuneate), 0.6-3 (-4) cm long x 0.5-1.4 (-2) cm broad. The foliage is similar to that of the annual peanut but gets thicker and more leathery with ageing. The flowers are axillary borne, sessile, yelow to orange in colour. Rhizoma seeds are scarse, underground (like peanuts) and small-sized (10 mm x 0.5-0.6 mm) (Cook et al., 2005; USDA-NRCS, 1997; Skerman, 1982).


Rhizoma peanut is mainly used as a forage legume that can be intensively grazed, or cut for hay or silage. It is particularly suited to infertile acidic soils (FAO, 2016). It can be grown in agroforestry systems and in mixed stands with tropical grasses or cool or warm grains (Cook et al., 2005). A good cover crop it is useful for erosion control in row crops and groves and for soil stabilization along roadsides. It is planted as an ornamental in private gardens, parks and highways (USDA-NRCS, 1997).


Arachis glabrata is native to South America (Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay) between 13° S and 28° S. It has been introduced to Australia, the United States, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Rhizoma peanut is a lowland species that can be found from 32°N to 35°S. It does well where annual rainfall is between 1000 and 2000 mm and where average monthly temperature is over 20°C. Rhizoma peanut can survive drought and grow where moisture is only 600 mm (evenly distributed) or 750 mm (over a 5-month wet season). Arachis glabrata can bear short periods of flooding or waterlogging (up to 4000 mm/year) and short periods of frost down to -12°C: the leaves die but the plant recovers from the rhizomes. Likewise, rhizoma peanut can readily recover after fire (FAO, 2016; Cook et al., 2005). Rhizoma peanut thrives on acidic infertile soils with pH down to 4.5 but was reported to grow also on alkaline soil with pH as high as 8.5. It has a lower P requirement than pinto peanut (Arachis pintoi). Rhizoma peanut is generally a full sunlight species but some cultivars are shade tolerant (Cook et al., 2005).

Forage management 


Arachis glabrata can only spread by rhizome extension . In cultivation, it is propagated from rhizomes. Clean seedbed and weeding are required during the first year of establishment since rhizomes do not grow well under competition (5-30 cm growth /year under grass competition vs. 2 m /year with no competition). Rhizomes should be dugged out during dormant phase (spring) and broadcasted and planted with the help of a disk. They can also be planted in rows (0.5 m in the row and 1 m interval between the rows). Planting depth should be from 3- 6 cm (7-10) cm depending on soil conditions and authors (Cook et al., 2005; USDA-NRCS, 1997). A cultipack should be used to roll the soil immediately after planting and have the rhizomes well tamped. Inoculation is not necessary. Under adequate growing conditions, the stand can be fully covered at the end of the first growing season. It should however not be grazed during the first year of establishment unless it has become well established in association with a forage grass that is ready for grazing. Most often, it takes 2-3 years to achieve a dense cover. After establishment, rhizoma peanut can withstand heavy mowing and grazing and is readily managed in pastures (FAO, 2016; Cook et al., 2005; USDA-NRCS, 1997).


Rhizoma peanut can be grown with grasses like Carpet grass (Axonopus fissifolius), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), Pangola grass (Digitaria eriantha), Paspalum nicorae, Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) or Signal grass (Brachiaria decumbens) and legumes (Aeschynomene villosa), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), and white clover (Trifolium repens) that are low-growing or creeping species. On the contrary, taller grasses will shade it out (Cook et al., 2005).


Rhizoma peanut yields about 10 to 16 t DM/ha under ideal conditions. In rubber and coconut plantations, yields of 5 t/ha have been reached. Three cuttings for hay production are possible in good seasons with 7-8 week cutting intervals. Cuttings should be limited to 2/year under restricted water availability. In grazed pastures, best regrowth is obtained when rhizoma peanut is cut to 20 cm stubble height on a 3-week cycle, or to 15 cm stubble height on a 6-week cycle (FAO, 2016; Cook et al., 2005).

Environmental impact 

Ornamental drought resistant cover crop

In Florida, rhizoma peanut is reported to form an aesthetical groundcover and it is valued for its high resistance to drought, nematodes, and pathogens and for its minimal fertilizer needs. It is promoted in urban areas to save water (Rouse et al., 2019).

Buffer for N and P excess

In waterways prone to runoff high in N and P, rhizoma peanut can be used as a buffer (Rouse et al., 2019).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The nutritive value of Arachis glabrata varies with ecotype or cultivar, and declines with age of material. Protein content ranges from 10-18% DM for material cut twice a year and up to 22% DM for material cut more regularly. P levels of 0.15% have been recorded in rhizoma peanut growing in extremely infertile soils, and up to 0.52% in well-fertilised soils. The overall nutritive value is similar to that of alfalfa. The leaf meal compares favourably with yellow maize and alfalfa meal as xanthophyll pigment source for egg yolk colouring in laying hens (Cook et al., 2005).

Potential constraints 



Rhizoma peanut is readily eaten by all classes of livestock as hay, silage and pasture, and is browsed by wild species such as deers. It can be grazed in rotation, harvested for hay or haylage or ensiled. In Florida, where rhizoma peanut has been extensively studied, it combines and excellent nutritive value, competitive ability with tropical grasses, and high animal performance (Cook et al., 2005).


Arachis glabrata hay is reported to be as palatable as alfalfa hay (Cook et al., 2005).

Digestibility and degradability

The in vitro OM digestibility of rhizoma peanut herbage was shown to vary from 45-68% for material cut twice a year up to 77% for material cut more regularly (Valencia et al., 2001; Williams et al., 2004). Rhizoma peanut hay is considered of an equal quality to alfalfa hay with an OM digestibility that is about 60% or more (Hill, 2002; Gelaye et al., 2010). Protein degradability of rhizoma peanut hay was found to be lower than that of alfalfa hay, compensating for a lower protein content (Romero et al., 1987).

Dairy cows

In a trial where rhizoma peanut hay, alfalfa hay or maize silage were mixed with concentrate at two levels (30% and 70%), milk yied obtained with rhizoma peanut hay was similar to that obtained with maize silage, but rhizoma peanut hay produced the highest levels of butterfat (Romero,1985, cited by French et al., 1988). Rhizoma peanut silage could replace 70% of maize silage in diets containing 50% concentrate without affecting dairy cow performance. Intake and digestion of the diet were depressed only when rhizoma silage was the sole source of forage (-2kg of DM intake and -2 to 3% of apparent DM digestibility) consequently affecting milk production (-1kg/cow/day) (Staples et al., 1997).

Based on nutrient content, in vitro DM degradability, and voluntary intake, rhizoma peanut hay showed greater potential for dairy heifers as a forage source than Stylosanthes guinanensis and Cajanus cajan, showing a higher DM digestibility than the control grass and a similar selective intake (Rodriguez et al., 2010). Cows and heifers being wintered on residual Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) pasture and hay showed similar performances (body weight and body condition score changes, pregnancy rate, calf birth weight) when offered 2.3 kg of the perennial peanut hay than when fed with 0.9 kg of a 20% CP concentrate cube supplement (Hammond et al., 1992).

Growing cattle

In Florida, yearling bulls from temperate and tropical breeds were offered mixed pastures of rhizoma peanut with Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) , Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), Chenopodium ambrosoides, Imperata cylindrica and blackberry (Rubus cuneifolius), at different stocking rates and N fertilization levels. Summer average daily gain (ADG) averaged about 0.2 kg/d lower than spring ADG, due in part to a seasonal decline in nutritive value. Because herbage allowance was never limiting, full-season ADG was not affected by stocking rate or N fertilization and averaged 0.61 ± 0.03 kg/d (Valencia et al., 2001). Steers finished on rhizoma peanut-tropical grass pasture in Florida experienced lower ADG during the growing and finishing periods (0.49 and 0.94 kg/d, respectively) than concentrate-finished steers (0.78 and 1.33 kg/d, respectively). Steers can be finished on rhizoma peanut-tropical grass pastures, but dark lean color and poor tenderness of carcasses may reduce beef quality produced on this forage (Bennett et al., 1995).

Creep grazing, defined as the utilization of a high quality forage species that only the calves have access to during the preweaning stage, may be another method of efficiently utilizing limited acreage of rhizoma peanut. Creep grazing enabled improvements in calf gains and body weight with greater benefits later in the grazing season as quality of the Bahia grass base pasture and cow milk production declined (Williams et al., 2004; French et al., 1988). However, creep grazing perennial peanut was less effective than creep grazing cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), both leading to lower calf performance than creep feeding with concentrates (Foster et al., 2013). Creep grazing the calves had no effect on cow performance (weight, ADG, or body condition score) (Foster et al., 2013; Williams et al., 2004).


Voluntary intake of DM, NDF and CP from ram lamb was higher when fed with rhizoma peanut hay than with grass hay (Digitaria eriantha, 80%, and Urochloa maximum, 20%). Daily supplementation with fish silage for the sheep fed the basal diet of rhizoma peanut hay slightly increased DM and protein digestibility but should be limited to 0.225% of BW (Diaz-Rios et al., 2008). Rhizoma peanut hay (first cut), supplemented at 50% of total diet DM (based on bahiagrass hay), increased DM and N intake and digestibility and improved microbial N synthesis of ram lambs (initial body weight 30.6 ± 5.5 kg) compared with no supplement or annual peanut, cowpea, pigeonpea or soybean hays (Foster et al., 2009).


Based on nutrient content, in vitro DM degradability, and voluntary intake, rhizoma peanut hay showed greater potential for goats as a forage source than Stylosanthes guinanensis and Cajanus cajan, showing a higher apparent digestibility of DM than the control tropical grass hay and a similar selective intake (Rodriguez et al., 2010). When offered the choice, mature goat bucks showed a strong preference during the autumn grazing (no preference in summer), spending 64.1% of their grazing time on rhizoma peanut plots compared to 35.9% for alfalfa, in relation with higher available rhizoma peanut DM. This preference was not associated with difference in quality of pre- and post-grazed rhizoma peanut forage, which indicates no selective grazing by the goats on these plots.

Growing goats fed peanut hay consumed approximately the same amount of DM but gained more body weight (+11-17 g/day) and were more efficient (-5-7 g DM/g gain) in converting DM intake into gain than those fed alfalfa hay or a combination of both forages (Gelaye et al., 1990). Goats fed rhizoma peanut hay (10% of the diet based on cracked maize, soybean meal and peanut hulls) grew at the same rate and utilized most of the nutrients as well or better than goats fed alfalfa hay (10% of the based diet). In tropical and subtropical parts of the world, goat productivity could be improved by using rhizoma peanut extensively in their rations (Gelaye et al., 1991).


Rhizoma peanut could be used in gestating sow rations to replace soybean meal-maize concentrate and resulted in very positive results (Lopez et al., 1986 cited by French et al., 1988). Diets containing rhizoma peanut at 0, 40, 60 and 80% of the ration were fed to sows during three gestation periods. Sows fed on 80% of rhizoma peanut farrowed more pigs than the other treatments and yielded an equivalent number of 1ive weaned pigs compared to the 100% corn/soyabean ration but differences were not statistically significant. Body weight gain during gestation and litter weight were not significantly different, however the 60% inclusion yielded the highest value for sows and litter weight (French et al., 1988).


Laying hens

Rhizoma peanut leaf meal has been mainly used in poultry feeding in order to improve yolk colour by the provision of xanthophyll pigments. In Cameroon, rhizoma peanut leaf meal could be included in laying hens diet in order to replace costly commercial pigments. It had no deleterious effect on egg parameters and it increased yolk colour significantly in comparison to the control (Teguia, 2000). These results were in accordance with former ones obtained in Florida where it was shown that laying hens could be fed either on rhizoma peanut leaf meal or on alfalfa leaf meal in order to replace commercial pigments (Janky et al., 1986).

In Thailand, laying hens could be fed on rhizoma peanut leaf meal at levels varying from 0 to 20%. However, increasing the level of inclusion of rhizoma peanut leaves in hens diet linearly decreased DM, CP, CF and energy digestibilities and decreased egg production, yolk colour. Moreover, increasing rhizoma peanut level quadratically decreased whole egg weight, yolk weight and albumen weight (Nopparatmaitree et al., 2015).


In Cameroon, that rhizoma peanut leaf meal could replace up to 20% maize without hindering weight gain of finishing broiler chickens. At higher level, both weight gain and feed conversion ratio were impaired (Teguia et al., 1997).



Rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata) forage is appreciated by rabbits, which are attracted by its plantations (Prine et al., 1999), and plantations of rhizoma peanut is recommended in southern USA to provide protein-rich browse for wild deer and rabbits (Surrency et al., 2001). For domestic rabbits, rhizoma peanut hay was estimated to be equivalent or even a little better than alfalfa hay for growing rabbits feeding (Gomez-de-Varela et al., 1983; French et al., 1988; Ruiz et al., 2007). Hay can be distributed ad libitum as supplement of a limited concentrate, and in this case rhizoma peanut hay represents about 25% of the daily DM intake (Garcia Gomez et al., 2006). In balanced complete diets, rhizoma peanut hay can be introduced as total replacement of alfalfa hay, at least up to 40% of the diet (Gomez-de-Varela et al., 1983). Thus rhizoma peanut can be considered for rabbits as a safe forage rich in protein with a moderate content of fibre (Lebas, 2007; Ruiz et al., 2007). As in the other Arachis spp. forages, for rabbits, rhizoma peanut proteins are just balanced for lysine but deficient in sulphur amino acids.

Horses and donkeys 

Rhizoma peanut was reported to be a good forage for horses in Porto Rico, in Florida and in Louisiana (Ruiz et al., 2007; Venuto et al., 1999). It has relatively high protein content for horses but its most interesting trait is its constant quality. Rhizoma peanut is deprived of dust and mold contamination and its protein content can be relatively constant (Venuto et al., 1999). A series of trials with rhizoma peanut hay concluded that it was a high-quality hay that could replace alfalfa hay in any horse diet (Eckert, 2008).


Other species 

Rhizoma peanut leaves were used to replace, 18% or 36 % Elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) in guinea-pigs diet in Cameroon. The inclusion of rhizoma peanut foliage increased blood N content but could not improve female guinea-pigs ovulation rate or decrease prenatal mortality (Kenfack et al., 2006).

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 88.8 8.9 60 95 13  
Crude protein % DM 13.9 3.5 4.4 20.8 21  
Crude fibre % DM 27.6   23.2 32.8 3  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 52.9 9.1 43.3 67.9 18  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 43 7.2 32.1 53.7 13  
Lignin % DM 7.4   6.7 8 2  
Ether extract % DM 2.3 0.4 1.9 2.9 5  
Ash % DM 8.7 1.4 6.8 11.8 13  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.3   17 18.6 2 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 13.6 4 11.6 20.7 5  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.4 0.7 1.8 3.5 5  
Potassium g/kg DM 14.9 0.6 13.9 15.4 5  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.36 0.47 0.09 1.2 5  
Magnesium g/kg DM 4.6 0.5 3.9 5.3 5  
Sulfur g/kg DM 2.1          
Manganese mg/kg DM 101   81 136 4  
Zinc mg/kg DM 31   29 34 4  
Copper mg/kg DM 4   4 5 4  
Iron mg/kg DM 101   81 138 4  
In vitro digestibility and solubility Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
In vitro OM digestibility (pepsin) % 59 5 52 65 9  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 60       1  
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 56.5       1 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.4         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.3         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 63.2 7.8 50.4 73 9  
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=6%) % 57       1 *
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=4%) % 63       1 *
a (N) % 29       1  
b (N) % 54       1  
c (N) h-1 0.064       1  
Dry matter degradability (effective, k=6%) % 47       1 *
Dry matter degradability (effective, k=4%) % 52       1 *
a (DM) % 24       1  
b (DM) % 45       1  
c (DM) h-1 0.064       1  
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 7.2       1 *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 6.7         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 39.1         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 67.5       1 *

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


AFZ, 2017; Diaz-Rios et al., 2008; Eckert, 2008; Foster et al., 2009; Gelaye et al., 1990; Gonzalvo et al., 2001; Hammond et al., 1992; Nieves et al., 2004; Nieves et al., 2008; Romero et al., 1987

Last updated on 08/11/2019 01:21:13

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Edouard N., Lebas F., 2019. Rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/575 Last updated on November 8, 2019, 1:49