Native perennial legumes have potential for use as components of grazing systems. Palatability affects forage utilization by grazing livestock, but relative palatability of native legumes is unknown. We determined the palatability of these native legumes of the Fabaceae family based on relative leaf consumption: false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa L.), Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacMill. ex B.L. Rob. & Fernald), blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis (L.) R. Br.), wild senna (Senna hebecarpa (Fernald) Irwin & Barneby), and purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea Vent.); compared with temperate forage legumes (Fabaceae): alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.). Purple prairie clover and Illinois bundleflower were among the most palatable native legumes each year and were readily consumed by grazing sheep (Ovis aries L. [Bovidae]). False indigo, a shrub, was the least palatable native legume. The leafiness, plant maturity, and nutritive value of leaves varied among legumes but were not associated with palatability.
Sheaffer CC, Wyse DL, Ehlke NJ. 2009. Palatability and nutritive value of native legumes. Native Plants Journal 10(3): 224–231.