Ornithopus


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Ornithopus

 

(serradella), a genus of plants of the family Le-guminosae. There are eight known species. Of the three species found in the USSR, only one, the common serradella (O. sativus), has value as forage. An annual plant, the common serradella has strongly branched and slightly lodging slender stems, which measure about 50 cm long. The oddly pinnate leaves have five to 20 pairs of delicate lanceolate blades. The small flowers, which are most often pale pink, are gathered into four- to seven-flowered racemes. The fruit is a pod that splits into separate segments, which may be used as planting material. The fruits resemble the digits of a bird’s foot; their seeds are tiny and flattened. The rodlike, strongly branching root penetrates the soil to depths of 125 cm and greater.

The common serradella grows in Portugal, Spain, and northwestern Africa. Its cultivation was introduced to Western Europe and Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the USSR it is cultivated as a fodder plant and, on poor soils, for green manure and as a nectar-bearer. Serradella is raised in the western USSR, Byelorussia, and the Ukrainian Poles’e.

With sufficient moisture, serradella grows well even on poor sandy and sandy-loam soils; it yields good harvests with application of manure or phosphorus-potassium fertilizers and with treatment of seeds with Nitragin. Serradella is planted in early spring as an independent crop or as a covering for winter or spring cereal crops. The sowing rate is 40–50 kg per hectare (ha). The plant grows slowly and begins to flower 40 to 45 days after sowing. Flowering occurs throughout the summer; the seeds, as a result, do not mature uniformly. The yield of green mass is 200–300 quintals/ha; with underplanting the yield is no greater than 200 quintals/ha. The green mass is readily eaten by animals and can be ensiled. One hundred kg contains 15.3 feed units and 2.7 kg of digestible protein. Serradella grows rapidly after mowing; it is also used as pasturage.

REFERENCE

Seradella (collection of articles). Under the general editorship of E. K. Alekseev. Moscow, 1969.
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