Intraspecific and interspecific crossing of Desmanthus yields new and novel plants

Peter N. Stuart1 and Nick Kempe2

1 Agrimix Pasture Concepts.   

2 Agrimix Pty Ltd, Eagle Farm, Qld, Australia.


Desmanthus was first introduced into Australia from the Americas decades ago as a potential forage legume with much to offer Australian agriculture. There are more than 24 species of Desmanthus but the key species exploited for pastures are D. virgatus and D. leptophyllus and more recently D. bicornutus. Elite varieties of these pasture species not only have the ability to survive in low input low rainfall conditions, but provide valuable high protein forage with leaf typically being in the order of 20% crude protein. Agrimix Pasture Concepts funded a breeding program which commenced in 2012, to develop new and novel varieties combining enhanced productivity while maintaining inherent drought tolerance. A surprising outcome has been some selections from interspecific crosses showing quite a different plant type, with much softer and erect growth, later maturity and indications of greater cold tolerance. These crosses are now being evaluated in the field in a number of diverse locations and have the potential to add valuable new legume genetics to pastures in temperate to tropical environments.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography Southern Farming Systems Agriculture Victoria

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