Canarybird bush

Crotalaria agatiflora

Common name:

Canary bird bush

Scientific name:

Crotalaria agatiflora

Alternative common names:

Birdflower, bird flower, bird-flower, canary bird-bush, Queensland birdflower, rattlebox (English); voëltjiebos (Afrikaans)

Canary bird bush is an evergreen shrub characterised by flowers that look like a family of canaries perching on a branch. The yellow-green flowers bloom on flower stalks in the summer through autumn. The soft green leaves grow on branches that can get leggy with age, otherwise this plant can sprawl to 6m tall and wide.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    Native to tropical East Africa and north-east Africa (Tanzania and Kenya).

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    NEM:BA Category 1b

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    In South Africa it is present in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

    How does it spread?

    It reproduces mainly by seeds which become loose in the pod as they mature. When flowers fade seed pods form. As the seeds within mature they separate from the pod walls and rattle giving canary bird bush its other common name of rattlebox.

    Why is it a problem?

    It threatens watercourses in grassland and savanna biomes and is potentially invasive on forest margins and also occupying cleared grassy areas.

    What does it look like?

    Leaves: Its leaves are greyish-green, 3-foliolate; leaflets on a short stalk (petiole), petiole mostly longer than leaflets, glabrous to densely hairy. Flowers: Flowers are lemon-yellow or greenish-yellow, with a projecting greenish or purple beak. Flowering is from spring to autumn. Fruit/seeds: Fruits greenish-purple pods, inflated, to 100mm long, seeds loose in dry pod and rattle when the pod is shaken.

    Does the plant have any uses?

    It is grown in gardens as an ornamental shrub.