- Easy to establish with large seed that can be sown directly into moisture
- High yielding with high quality forage
- Can be sown with summer grasses (e.g. Forage sorghum) to provide mixed forage system
- Drought tolerant once established
- Can be grazed, harvested for hay, or used as a green manure
- Poor frost tolerance
- Low salt tolerance
- Intolerant of prolonged water logging
Stems: thick, trailing and twining
Leaves: comprise 3 large rounded leaflets
Flowers: white or purple borne on long stems
Pods: flattened, usually 4 – 5cm long with 2 – 4 seeds per pod
Seeds: Seed colour can vary according to cultivar from white/cream to brown or black; characteristic fleshy white strip around half of circumference.
Pasture type and use
Lablab is a high yielding forage legume sown for grazing, forage conservation and as a break crop in sub-tropical and tropical farming systems. It is commonly used in mixed cropping-livestock systems in northern Australia and as a legume ley in sugar cane systems to address soil fertility decline.
Where it grows
Wide range of soils from deep sands to heavy clays provided drainage is good. Will grow on acidic to alkaline soils (pH water 5.0 – 7.5). Does not tolerate poor drainage or prolonged water logging.
Tolerates light frosts and is more tolerant of low temperatures than cowpea.
Legumes: generally not grown in association with other warm season legumes.
Sowing/planting rates as single species
12 – 20 kg/ha
Sowing/planting rates in mixtures
5 – 8 kg/ha
Spring or summer depending on moisture availability.
Group J (Lablab, Pigeon Pea). Some sub-tropical soils may have suitable native rhizobia, however inoculation with the lablab rhizobia is recommended.
Establishment fertiliser commonly not applied.
Commonly grown without fertiliser applications. When grown in sandy soil, it may benefit from applications of phosphorus and sulphur.
Ability to spread
Does not spread naturally. May appear in subsequent crops but usually only for 1 year due to low levels of hard seed.
Low weed potential due to short lived nature and poor seed longevity.
Lablab roots can be attacked by nematodes and seeds by pod feeding and boring insects.
Lablab is less susceptible to root diseases than cowpea, and disease problems are rare.
Highly sensitive to 2,4-D, M.C.P.A, 2,4-D-B and dicamba.
High nutritive value. Crude protein levels in the leaf range from 21 – 38% (commonly about 26%), in the stem from 7 – 20% and in the grain, 20-28%. Digestibility of leaves ranges from 55-76% (commonly over 60%).
Seasonal yields of 2 t/ha leaf or 4 t/ha stem and leaf are common in the sub tropics. Liveweight gains in cattle have reached over 1.0 kg/head/day.
Does not contain anti-nutritive factors such as tannins. No reported toxicities and non-bloating.
Cultivars Highworth early flowering
Rongai late flowering