Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Sesbania sesban



Sesbania sesban (sesban)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Sesbania sesban
  • Preferred Common Name
  • sesban
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. sesban is a deciduous, short-lived perennial shrub or tree, indigenous to north-east Africa and often also described as native to parts of southern Asia. It is cultivated widely for fodder and forage, and is...

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TitleS. sesban trees
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
S. sesban trees©A.R. Pittaway
TitleSeed collection
Seed collectionICRAF
TitleFlowers and foliage
Flowers and foliageICRAF
TitleSeed pods
Seed podsICRAF
Example of Mesoplatys sp. damage. M. ochroptera has been recorded seriously defoliating trees in Malawi.
CaptionExample of Mesoplatys sp. damage. M. ochroptera has been recorded seriously defoliating trees in Malawi.
Example of Mesoplatys sp. damage. M. ochroptera has been recorded seriously defoliating trees in Malawi.
DefoliationExample of Mesoplatys sp. damage. M. ochroptera has been recorded seriously defoliating trees in Malawi.ICRAF
1. flowering branch
2. fruit
3. seeds
TitleLine artwork
Caption1. flowering branch 2. fruit 3. seeds
CopyrightPROSEA Foundation
1. flowering branch
2. fruit
3. seeds
Line artwork1. flowering branch 2. fruit 3. seedsPROSEA Foundation


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr.

Preferred Common Name

  • sesban


  • Sesbania sesban var. bicolor (Wight & Arn.) F. W. Andrews
  • Sesbania sesban var. nubica Chiov.
  • Sesbania sesban var. sesban
  • Sesbania sesban var. zambesiaca J. B. Gillett

Other Scientific Names

  • Aeschynomene sesban L.
  • Coronilla sesban (L.) Moench
  • Emerus sesban (L.) Kuntze
  • Sesbania aegyptiaca (Poir.) Pers.
  • Sesbania confaloniana (Chiov.) Chiov.
  • Sesbania punctata DC.

International Common Names

  • English: common sesban; Egyptian pea; Egyptian rattle pod; Egyptian river hemp; Egyptian sesban; frother; river bean
  • Spanish: palisandro (Cuba); tamarindillo
  • French: sesbanie d'Egypte
  • Arabic: seseban; torero
  • Chinese: yin du tian jing

Local Common Names

  • Cambodia: snao kook
  • Cuba: añil francés
  • Germany: gelbe Baumwisterie
  • India: chithagathi; chuchu-rangmei; jaint; jayant; jayantika; karunchembai; nadeyi; raishingin; rawsa; samintha; shevri; vaijayanti
  • Indonesia: janti; jayanti; puri
  • Laos: sapao lom
  • Myanmar: yay-tha-kyee; yethugyi
  • Philippines: katodai; katuray
  • South Africa: riverbontjie; umQambuqweqwe; umsoksok
  • Sri Lanka: chittakatti; karunchembai
  • Thailand: champai; sami; saphaolom
  • Uganda: mubimba; muzimbandeya
  • Vietnam: dien-dien

EPPO code

  • SEBSE (Sesbania sesban)
  • SEBSP (Sesbania sesban subsp. punctata)

Synonymized subspecies

  • Sesbania sesban subsp. punctata

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. sesban is a deciduous, short-lived perennial shrub or tree, indigenous to north-east Africa and often also described as native to parts of southern Asia. It is cultivated widely for fodder and forage, and is reported as an invasive species in Israel and the U.S. state of Hawaii (PIER, 2012; Dufour-Dror, 2013). It has become naturalized in many of the countries where it is cultivated, and is characterized by very rapid early growth. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Sesbania
  •                                     Species: Sesbania sesban

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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There are 56 accepted species names in the genus Sesbania listed on The Plant List (2013). The genus Sesbania is in the family Leguminosae or Fabaceae, subfamily: Faboideae, tribe: Sesbanieae. The largest number of species are found in Africa, and the remainder in Australia, Hawaii, and Asia.

The most widely collected species within the genus, Sesbania sesban was circumscribed originally in 1753 by Linnaeus as Aeschynomene sesban and described in 1912 as a new combination by Elmer Drew Merrill, the foremost contributor to the taxonomy of plants of the Far East, who served as Director of the New York Botanical Garden from 1929 to 1935 (Merrill, 1912). S. sesban has two accepted infraspecific taxa according to The Plant List (2013): S. sesban var. bicolor (Wight & Arn.) F.W. Andrews and S. sesban subsp. punctata (DC.) J.B.Gillett. S. sesban is more closely related to annual sesbanias than the other common perennial species in the genus, S. grandiflora (Evans, 1994).

Care should be taken with the synonymy of Sesbania aegyptiaca sensu Bojer which, according to ILDIS (2014), is not S. sesban but rather S. bispinosa (Jacq.) W. Wight.

Etymology of sesban is derived through the French from Arabic 'saisabaan' from the Persian word 'sisabaan' which perhaps named one of two East Indian species, S. aculeata and S. aegyptiaca.


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The following description comes from Flora of China Editorial Committee (2015):

Herbs, perennial, suffrutescent, 2-4 m tall. Branches pubescent, glabrescent, internodes often 0.5-2.5 cm, nodes conspicuously gibbous. Stipules triangular-lanceolate, 3-4 mm, caducous, pubescent. Leaves 20-40-foliolate; petiole and rachis appressed pubescent, more so at petiole base; rachis 4-10 cm; petiolules appressed pubescent; stipels acerose; leaflet blades oblong to linear, 1.3-2.5 cm × 3-4(-6) mm, both surfaces with purplish black glands, abaxially sparsely appressed pubescent when young but glabrescent, adaxially glabrous or glabrescent, midvein evident on both surfaces, base obliquely rounded, apex rounded to retuse and mucronate. Racemes 4-10-flowered; peduncle 8-10 cm, slender, pubescent, glabrescent; bracts linear-lanceolate, caducous, abaxially sparsely appressed pubescent. Pedicel ca. 8 mm, slender, pubescent when young; bracteoles smaller than bracts, caducous. Calyx campanulate; teeth shortly triangular, inside appressed pubescent to glabrescent. Corolla yellow or calyx and standard purplish black and wings and keel partly purplish black or red; standard transversely elliptic, 1.1-1.3 cm, wider than long, with a 4-5 mm claw, with a S-shaped callus ca. 2 mm, basally decurrent to lamina, widened in middle, and distinct and acuminate to obtuse at apex, base subcordate, apex emarginate; wings oblong, 1-1.2 cm, with a curved ca. 4 mm claw, base inconspicuously auriculate, apex rounded; keel nearly semicircular, 6-8 × 5-7 mm, lamina base narrower than apex and with a triangular short auricle, claw ± as long as calyx. Stamen tube 8-10 mm; anthers ellipsoid. Ovary glabrous; style ca. 5 mm, glabrous; stigma globose. Legume contorted when young but straight or slightly curved at maturity, subterete, 15-23(-30) cm × 3-4 mm, ca. 5 mm between transverse septa, base often with a marcescent calyx, apex beaked. Seeds 20-40 per legume, subterete, 3-4 × ca. 2 mm, slightly compressed; hilum rounded and concave.

Other descriptions describe the plant as a single or multistemmed shrub or small tree, with the height up to 8 m tall (see e.g. Evans, 1994).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Seed propagated


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According to the FAO Grassland and Species Profiles the "origins of S. sesban are unclear but it is widely distributed and cultivated throughout tropical Africa and Asia”. USDA-ARS (2014) gives a wide native distribution, extending in Africa from Egypt to South Africa and west to Nigeria and Senegal. It is also given as native to the south eastern Arabian peninsula, western Asia, the Indian subcontinent, south-east Asia and northern Australia. Orwa et al. (2009), however, limit the native distribution to Chad, Egypt, Kenya and Uganda. The centre of diversity is in Africa, and S. sesban probably originated there (Evans, 1994). Genetic analysis of African populations by Jamadass et al. (2005) found the greatest diversity in East Africa.

S. sesban has been widely cultivated and has become naturalized on some Pacific and Caribbean islands, as well as in parts of Central and South America.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


AfghanistanPresentNativeLock and Simpson, 1991; USDA-ARS, 2014
BahrainPresentNativeLock and Simpson, 1991
BangladeshPresentKhatun, 1987; USDA-ARS, 2014
BhutanLocalisedIntroducedBhutan Biodiversity Portal, 2014
CambodiaPresentNativeThuan et al., 1987; USDA-ARS, 2014
ChinaPresent Planted
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
-HainanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015Cultivated
-ShandongPresent Planted
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2015Cultivated
IndiaWidespreadNative Not invasive Khare, 2007"cultivated and wild"
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeAbraham et al., 2008
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeRoshetko and Gutteridge, 1996
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeVaraprasad et al., 2011
-AssamPresentNativeGilbert-Carter and Gilbert-Carter, 1921; USDA-ARS, 2014
-BiharPresentPlanted, NaturalVarma, 1981; USDA-ARS, 2014
-ChhattisgarhPresentTirkey, 2006
-DelhiPresentNativeMaheshwari, 1976; USDA-ARS, 2014
-GoaPresentNativeSesagiriravu, 1985; USDA-ARS, 2014
-GujaratPresentNativeSesagiriravu, 1985; USDA-ARS, 2014
-HaryanaPresentNativeKumar, 2000; USDA-ARS, 2014
-Himachal PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeSharma, 1990; USDA-ARS, 2014
-Jammu and KashmirPresentPlanted, NaturalILDIS, 2014
-JharkhandPresentNativeMaiti and Maiti, 2014trial planting report
-KarnatakaPresentPlanted, NaturalSingh, 1988; USDA-ARS, 2014
-KeralaPresentNativeManilal and Sivarajan, 1982; USDA-ARS, 2014
-Madhya PradeshPresentPlanted, NaturalRoy et al., 1992; USDA-ARS, 2014
-MaharashtraPresentPlanted, NaturalDeshpande et al., 1993; USDA-ARS, 2014
-ManipurPresentNativeRyakala et al., 2009; USDA-ARS, 2014
-MeghalayaPresentNativeVerma, 1988
-MizoramPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-NagalandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-OdishaPresentNativeBairiganjan et al., 1985; USDA-ARS, 2014
-PuducherryPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-RajasthanPresentNativeShetty and Singh, 1993; USDA-ARS, 2014
-SikkimPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeNair and Henry, 1989; USDA-ARS, 2014
-TripuraPresentNativeDeb, 1981; USDA-ARS, 2014
-Uttar PradeshPresentPlanted, NaturalSharma and Dhakre, 1995; USDA-ARS, 2014
-UttarakhandPresentNativeDhiman, 2004
-West BengalPresentPlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2014
IndonesiaPresent Planted Hanelt et al., 2001; USDA-ARS, 2014
-JavaPresent Planted Backer et al., 1963
-KalimantanPresent Planted
-Nusa TenggaraPresentNativeCraswell and Tangendjaja, 1984
-SumatraPresent Planted Gutteridge and Shelton, 1995
IranPresent Planted Lock and Simpson, 1991; USDA-ARS, 2014
IraqPresent Planted Townsend and Guest, 1974; USDA-ARS, 2014
IsraelPresent Planted Castri et al., 1990; Dufour-Dror, 2013
JapanPresent Planted
LaosPresent Planted Thuan et al., 1987
MalaysiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
NepalPresentFlora of Nepal Editorial Committee, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
OmanPresentNativeLock and Simpson, 1991
PakistanPresentNativeAli, 1977; USDA-ARS, 2014
PhilippinesPresentMerrill, 1912; Cook et al., 2005
QatarWidespreadIntroducedMandaville, 1990Frequent along shaded roadsides; probably escaped from cultivation
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeWittmer and Büttiker, 1983; Mandaville, 1990; USDA-ARS, 2014
Sri LankaPresentNativePalm et al., 1988; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
TaiwanPresent Planted Flora of Taiwan Editorial Committee, 2013
ThailandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
United Arab EmiratesPresentIntroducedSeth, 2003Landscape species
VietnamPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015
YemenPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014


AngolaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
BotswanaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
BurundiPresentNativeAkyeampong and Dzowela, 1996Cultivated
CameroonPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
Cape VerdeLocalisedIntroducedSandys-Winsch and Harris, 1992Coastal planting trial
Central African RepublicPresentPlanted, Natural
ChadPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
CongoPresentUsman et al., 2013
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentUsman et al., 2013
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
DjiboutiPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
EgyptPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
EritreaPresentUsman et al., 2013
EthiopiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
GabonPresentUsman et al., 2013
GambiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
GhanaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
GuineaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Guinea-BissauPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
KenyaWidespreadNativeGillett, 1963; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014Located in Northern Kenya along running water
LesothoPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
MadagascarPresentILDIS, 2014
MalawiPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
MaliPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
MauritaniaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
MauritiusPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
MozambiquePresentNativeILDIS, 2014
NamibiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
NigerPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
NigeriaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
RéunionPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
Rodriguez IslandPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
RwandaWidespreadNativeEvans and Rotar, 1987; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014Northern Rwanda- growing along river edges; utilized by elephants
Saint HelenaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
SenegalPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
Sierra LeonePresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SomaliaPresentNativeGillett, 1963; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
South AfricaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SudanPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SwazilandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
TanzaniaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
TogoPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
TunisiaPresentEvans and Rotar, 1987"cultivated and semi-naturalized"
UgandaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
ZambiaWidespreadNativeJamnadass et al., 2005; ILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
ZimbabwePresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedVillaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004naturalized
USAPresent Planted
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2012

Central America and Caribbean

CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2014
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2014
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2014Exotic in St. Croix

South America

BrazilPresent Planted
-BahiaPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2015
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2015
-GoiasPresentIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2015
-Minas GeraisPresent Planted
-Sao PauloPresent Planted
GuyanaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2014
ParaguayPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
SurinamePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014


AustraliaPresent Planted
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-QueenslandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
FijiPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
TongaPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009
VanuatuPresentIntroducedOrwa et al., 2009

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. sesban is widely planted, and has a long history of use throughout Africa and Asia including India. While the origin of the species is unclear, Evans (1994) suggests that it may have been spread across southern Asia from northeastern Africa by man. It is less common in the Americas, but is known to have occurred in Cuba since 1908 and in Puerto Rico since 1885 (United States National Herbarium). 

Risk of Introduction

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The likelihood of further introductions is high because S. sesban is used as a major agronomic species and is highly adaptable to climatic and physical conditions within tropical regions of the world. It has frequently escaped from cultivation and become naturalized. In a risk assessment on PIER (2012) for Hawaii it was given a high risk source of 11. 


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S. sesban is indigenous to "monsoonal, semi-arid to sub-humid regions with 500-2000 mm annual rainfall". It grows along "streams, swamp edges, moist and inundated bottomlands demonstrating tolerance to moisture-stress and soil alkalinity and salinity” (Cook et al., 2005; Orwa et al., 2009). In China it can be naturalized in wastelands, roadsides, riversides, mountain slopes and streamsides below 300-1300 m (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015). The species extends the range of nitrogen-fixing forage trees into cooler, higher elevation regions of the tropics and is ideally suited to seasonally flooded environments (Orwa et al., 2009).

Habitat List

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Inland saline areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Arid regions Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Coastal dunes Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Salt marshes Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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2n=12 (Heering and Hanson, 1993).

Reproductive Biology

S. sesban reproduces primarily from seed although it can be vegetatively propagated. Flowering starts shortly after the onset of the rains, and in areas where there are two rainy seasons, it flowers and sets fruit twice (Orwa et al., 2009). Interspecific hybridization with S. goetzei is reported by Orwa et al. (2009). Seed is short-lived if not kept at room temperature.

Environmental Requirements

S. sesban is moderately shade tolerant and tolerates metalliferous mine tailings high in Cu, Zn and Pb (Orwa et al., 2009). It has outstanding ability to withstand waterlogging, shows some tolerance to moisture stress, and tolerates soil alkalinity and salinity. It does well under bimodal rainfall distributions where heavy rain is followed by a progressively drier season (Evans, 1994).

Physiology and Phenology

S. sesban grows very rapidly and thrives with repeated cuttings and coppicing, which can be carried out several times per year. When flooded, the plant initiates floating, adventitious roots and protects its stems, roots and nodules with spongy tissue (Orwa et al., 2009).


As a nitrogen-fixing legume, S. sesban forms associations with Rhizobium. The rhizobia strains that nodulate sesbanias are specialized and may not be present where sesbanias have not been grown previously (Evans, 1994).


S. sesban is a short-lived perennial (1-5 years) which may be treated as an annual in regions where temperatures below 7°C preclude a perennial cultivation regime (Cook et al., 2005). 


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
30 -15 100 2300

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 0
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 20 28
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 25 30
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 14 19


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration35number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall3402000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alcidodes bubo Herbivore Fruits/pods/Leaves/Stems not specific
Eurytoma Herbivore Seeds
Mesoplatys ochroptera Herbivore Leaves not specific Orwa et al., 2009

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Many insects feed on Sesbania species in natural stands (Sileshi et al., 2000). Mesoplatys ochroptera "can completely defoliate S. sesban, leading to mortality" (Orwa et al., 2009). The weevil, Alcidodes buho, damages the plant and the larvae of Azygophelps scalaris bore through the stems. The bacterium, Xanthomonas sesbaniae affects the stems and foliage.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Spread of S. sesban into new countries and regions has been intentional, as the species is grown for fodder and as a medicinal plant. It has sometimes escaped from cultivation to become naturalized. The species seeds prolifically and seedlings establish readily on moist bare soil.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionIntercropping Yes Yes Gutteridge and Shelton, 1995
Forage Yes Yes Hanelt et al., 2001
Habitat restoration and improvement Yes Yes Sandys-Winsch and Harris, 1992
Medicinal use Yes Yes Usman et al., 2013

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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S. sesban is a naturalized occasional agricultural weed (Randall, 2012).     

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
Impact mechanisms
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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S. sesban is mainly used for fodder. The leaves and branches are high in protein (20-25%) and give high digestibility for ruminants, but are not recommended for feeding to monogastric animals such as rabbits and pigs (Evans, 1994). The species is less used for wood, but can be a source of light firewood used in cooking and charcoal production. As a fast-growing species, it produces a high woody biomass in a short time, and the wood is relatively smokeless and hot burning (Orwa et al., 2009).  

S. sesban is cultivated or allowed to grow as a fallow crop in maize fields where it may be intercropped with beans and cotton as well as other crops. It improves soil fertility through the nitrogen it fixes. It is also used as a live support for black pepper, grapes, cucurbits and betel vine and as a shade tree for coffee and turmeric (Cook et al., 2005; Alavalapati and Mercer, 2006). It has also been used as a windbreak for crops including bananas, citrus and coffee (Orwa et al., 2009).

S. sesban has significant anti-inflammatory potential (Sajid et al., 2013)and may have "antibiotic, anthelmintic, anti-tumour and contraceptive properties as well as special properties in Ayurvedic medicinal practices” (Orwa et al., 2009). It is reported to be effective in the treatment of scorpion stings, boils and abscesses as well as a repellent of the tsetse fly (Orwa et al., 2009). S. sesban is used, according to Orwa et al. (2009) to treat "sore throat, gonorrhoea, syphilis, spasmodic fits in children and jaundice during pregnancy."

The flowers are edible and are added to stews and omelets in some regions (Evans, 1994).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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S. sesban may be confused with annual Sesbania spp. such as S. sericea which also has yellow flowers, but S. sericea is more densely pubescent on the lower surface of leaflets. The perennial Sesbania grandiflora has very big flowers, and larger leaves and seed pods.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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S. sesban is infrequently studied in natural systems. Information on rate of spread, and impacts on ecosystems, is limited. Management and control strategies in natural systems need to be researched.   


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`t Mannetje L; Jones RM; eds, 1992. Plant Resources of South-East Asia. No. 4. Forages. Wageningen, Netherlands; Pudoc/PROSEA.

Abraham Z; Senthilkumar R; John KJ; Sharma TVRS; Nair NV; Unnikrishnan M; Kumaran PM; George JK; Uma S; Latha M; Malik SS; Mishra SK; Bhandari DC; Pareek SK, 2008. Collection of plant genetic resources from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, 55(8):1279-1289.

Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2014. Flora of the West Indies website: Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.

Ahmad R; Zaheer SH, 1994. Responses of Sporobolus arabicus and Sesbania aegyptica as affected by density, salinity of irrigation water and inter-cropping. Pakistan Journal of Botany, 26(1):115-125; 20 ref.

Akyeampong E; Dzowela BH, 1996. Fodder production from associations of leguminous shrubs and grasses on contour bunds in the highlands of Burundi. Tropical Grasslands, 30(3):330-334; 16 ref.

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Tropical Forages


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31/05/2015 Original text by:

John Peter Thompson, Consultant, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, USA

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