Indian Joint Vetch
Aeschynomene indica - Linnaeus
Fabaceae (Bean) Family


Indian Joint is a native annual herbaceous plant native to the southern half of Alabama. The plant occurs in marshes, on river and stream banks, in wet roadside ditches, and in low fields. It is an annual with a tap root. Stems are from 3-15 feet in height; green or purple in color, glabrous, and often glaucous. The base of the stem is usually swollen and spongy. Very young stems often have stalked glands.

The leaves are alternate, petiolate, and odd-pinnately compound. The leaves are sensitive to touch and will fold up when disturbed. Each leaf has 50-70 oblong or linear-oblong leaflets. The leaflets have a single obvious vein and are glabrous.

The flowers are produced in axillary racemes of 3-6 flowers; appearing in late spring and early summer. The rachis (flower bearing stem) and peduncle (flower stalk) is glandular pubescent. Flowers resemble small butterflies; yellow in color, fading to orange with age.

The fruit is a segmented legume that is glandular pubescent. The legume breaks into 1-seeded segments.

The plant occurs throughout the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It is sometimes planted as a green manure, and extracts from the plant are used in herbal medicine and as a spermicide. Large spongy stems are used as floats or to build rafts. The seed contain rotenoids, and the foliage can be toxic to ruminants.

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