Better Pastures for the Tropics - banner

(Centrosema pubescens)

Centro- illustration  


  • climbing, twining perennial
  • for high rainfall tropical coast
  • suitable for medium fertility acid soils
  • shade-tolerant.


Centrosema pubescens Benth. -
1 flowering branch;
2 fruits;
3 seed.


Common centro was the foundation of fattening and dairying pastures in the wet tropics. It prefers soils of medium to high fertility, but is fairly tolerant of poorly drained conditions and low pH. It can be sown on alluvial lands subject to short-term flooding.

However, it has now been replaced by species more suited to lower fertility. Centro combines well with tall grasses such as guinea grass, but has also grown satisfactorily with pangola and para grass. While moderately palatable, centro can withstand heavy grazing.

Although it has rarely been successful in areas receiving less than about 1,250 mm of rainfall, centro has a good rooting system and will withstand a long dry season. In lower rainfall areas, siratro is more productive, while in cooler areas it has been displaced by the desmodiums, siratro and glycine.

Centro has specific rhizobium requirements, and, on poorer soils, it responds well to superphosphate .

Centro seedling growth is slow, and it needs light grazing for the first six months if it is not to be over-run by grasses or weeds. It tolerates shade well, but its use as a cover crop in plantations has been restricted because it will grow up trees and bushes.

Imported seed of common centro is only available at times.

Cv. Belalto has better cool season growth. It also spreads more effectively, and roots more strongly at the nodes, with less tendency to climb. It can be distinguished from common centro by its more slender stems, rounder leaflets and purplish-brown young growth, but locally produced seed is rarely available now.

Cv. Cardillo is a new selection that roots well from the nodes, and hence is much more resistant to grazing. It will combine with signal grass or humidicola, as well as with tussock grasses such as guinea or setaria. It is also compatible with most of the other legumes for this area.

Cardillo is more tolerant of cold and poorer soils than common centro, and can be planted in well drained soils in the wet coastal areas, from the tropics south to Mackay, and in some high-rainfall areas in south-east Queensland.

Creator: Ian Partridge
Date created: 18 Mar 1998  Revised: 15 January 2003

Better Pastures home page