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Chamaecytisus proliferus - (L.f.)

Common Name Tagasaste. Tree lucerne.
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 8-12
Known Hazards None Known
Habitats Native to the extremely arid volcanic slopes of the Canary Islands. It prefers sandy soils, but thrives on gravels, loams, limestone and laterites. Its rainfall range is 350 to 1600 mm annually. Soils must be free-draining to avoid infection with root-rot fungus. A pH of 5 to 7 is tolerated. It can survive cold winters down to -9°C.Grows along roadsides, in pastures, grasslands, heathlands, open woodlands, disturbed sites and waste areas, along waterways and drainage lines, and around old habitations in temperate, semi-arid and occasionally also sub-tropical regions.
Range Native to the Canary Islands in the Mediterranean region. Widely naturalised in southern Australia. (i.e. in south-eastern Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, south-eastern South Australia, and south-western and western Western Australia). Also sparingly naturalised on Norfolk Island. Widely naturalised in New Zealand and Africa.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Chamaecytisus proliferus Tagasaste. Tree lucerne.

Chamaecytisus proliferus Tagasaste. Tree lucerne.


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Also known as Cytisus proliferus

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Chamaecytisus proliferus is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


This name is a synonym of Cytisus proliferus L.f. with synonyms: Chamaecytisus palmensis (H.Christ) Hutch. Chamaecytisus proliferus (L.f.) Link. and Chamaecytisus proliferus var. palmensis H.Christ

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None Known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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None Known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fodder  Soil conditioner  Soil stabilization

This species has been cultivated extensively as a fodder shrub and has sometimes also been used in land rehabilitation. It is also occasionally grown as a garden ornamental. As a fodder crop tagasaste delivers between 23 and 27% crude protein (14–30% in Western Australia) and 18–24% crude indigestible fibre. With proper application of fertiliser it can maintain these levels even when grown on poor soils. Usually after a 10-24 months establishment period, tagasaste can be grazed by different ruminant species, including cattle, sheep, goats and alpacas (Orwa et al., 2009; Cook et al., 2005; O'Donoghue, 2011). Animals can graze down to a height of 20-30 cm (i.e. 70-80% of the leaves). After the first grazing period, vigorous regrowth occurs. This should be pruned so that tagasaste plants do not grow beyond 1-2 m high and remain available to livestock (Esterhuizen et al., 2016; Cook et al., 2005; George et al., 2003). As a Nitrogen fixing legume it improves the nitrogen status of the soil, benefiting neighbouring grasses. Its extensive root system taps nutrients and water deep in the soil (down to 10 m) and makes them available in the upper layers for shallower rooting neighbouring plants. One of the first trees to flower in spring and it is an excellent nectar source for bees. Timber and fuelwood; it produces a fairly dense wood, useful for woodturning, and has excellent potential as a firewood crop as it coppices readily. Windbreaks; when mature as a close-planted 25-50 cm hedge it provides shelter from cold winds and summer heat. It can be used to underplant pine windbreaks that have developed gaps with age. Alley Cropping; it has potential as an intercrop in temperate orchards and as a nurse crop for frost sensitive trees. Tagasaste has been assessed for salinity control: it reduces water runoff and seepage, and thus assists in reducing the rising water table effect (Eastham et al., 1993). However, it is sensitive to salinity, and growth is reduced in saline conditions (O'Donoghue, 2011). Carbon Farming Solutions - Agroforestry Services: nitrogen, alley crop (Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland). Fodder: bank [1-1].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Fodder: Bank  Management: Coppice  Minor Global Crop

Climate: Mediterranean, warm temperate. Humidity: semi-arid. Grows well in a range of environments and once established handles climates ranging from those of the hot western wheat belt to those of the cool table lands. It prefers sandy soils, but thrives on gravels, loams, limestone and laterites. Its rainfall range is 350 to 1600 mm annually. Soils must be free-draining to avoid infection with root-rot fungus. A pH of 4 to 7 is tolerated. It can survive cold winters down to -9°C. It is adapted to a range of soils, preferring the more freely drained ones, but it does not do well on low lying sites subject to waterlogging. Roots can extend down to at least 10 metres. There are also many 'feeder' roots that are mostly confined to the top 1?.5m. These can extend out at least 15 metres from the trunk. Considered to be a promiscuous legume, compatible with cowpea and Tagasaste 1502 Rhizobium. It will nodulate with a wide range of rhizobia. Carbon Farming Solutions - Cultivation: minor global crop. Management: coppice (Describes the non-destructive management systems that are used in cultivation) [1-1].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Integrates annual crops with rows of perennials.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - plant 2.5 cm deep. The seeds are hard coated and should be scarified or soaked in hot water prior to sowing. They should also be inoculated with the same rhizobium as for cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) where tagasaste is not commonly grown (George et al., 2003). Tagasaste can be directly sown or transplanted once seedlings are 10-15 cm high. Protect young plants from all grazing animals. This species reproduces manily by seed, which are thought to be spread by ants, birds and slashing.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cytisus proliferus, tagasaste or tree lucerne, silky cytisus, tagasaste, tree-lucerne

Native to the Canary Islands and naturalized in most tropical highlands and Mediterranean-type climate areas with long, hot and dry summers, including Australia, New-Zealand, Ethiopia and South Africa. However, it is not common in the USA.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Tree lucerne accumulates large quantities of long-lived seeds in the soil seed bank and readily germinates after fire or other disturbance, forming dense infestations that can smother native vegetation and prevent regeneration. Its nitrogen-fixing ability also increases soil fertility, helping other weeds to colonise invaded sites and out-compete the native species. Tree lucerne is regarded as an environmental weed in New South Wales, Australia (particularly in central and southern regions), Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. It is particularly invasive in the non-arid inland areas of south-eastern Australia and has become naturalised in almost all areas where it has been planted as a fodder plant. Tree lucerne also appears on numerous Australian local environmental weed lists in the Sydney and Blue Mountains region, throughout Victoria, in south-eastern South Australia and in Tasmania.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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