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Sesbania bispinosa - (Jacq.) W.Wight

Common Name Prickly Sesban
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Marshes, ditches, river margins; also a weed in cultivations on alluvial land, especially in rice fields; often in saline areas; flood-plains, seasonally inundated depressions, sandbanks of brackish lagoons; occasionally in open miombo woodland[328 ].
Range Eastern tropical Africa; Afghanistan, Iran, Indian subcontinent, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Sesbania bispinosa Prickly Sesban

Dinesh Valke from Thane, India
Sesbania bispinosa Prickly Sesban
Dinesh Valke from Thane, India


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Sesbania bispinosa, also known as Prickly Seban, is an annual small shrub native to Asia and North Africa. Growing about 1-2 m tall, some up to 7 m, it has fibrous stems, long leaves, and purple-spotted yellow flowers. It can either be branched and spreading or tall and straight. It is vigorous and has great weed potential especially in rice paddy fields. The flowers are eaten as vegetables. Mature seeds can also be cooked. When mixed with flour, the seeds are used to treat ringworm and other skin diseases and worms. Meanwhile, leaves and flowers are used in the treatment of inflammations, bacterial infections, and tumors. Further, the plant has other great uses such as as green manure and fodder, industrial hemp, natural gum, and firewood.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Sesbania bispinosa is a ANNUAL/BIENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Aeschynomene aculeata Schreb. Aeschynomene bispinosa Jacq. Coronilla aculeata Willd. Sesban aculeata


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Mature seeds - cooked[303 ]. Mainly used in times of famine[418 ].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The leaves and flowers are astringent[303 ]. They are used in he treatment of inflammations, bacterial infections and tumours[303 ]. They are prepared as poultices for external use or taken as a decoction for internal ailments[303 ]. The seed, mixed with flour, is used to treat ringworm and other skin diseases and worms[303 ].

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: The plant fixes atmospheric nitrogen and is capable of growing in soils where few or no other crops can grow, such as on alkaline or saline soils of low fertility and poor texture. It has a remarkable sustaining quality on such soils and also improves soil permeability[303 ]. The leftover stalks, roots and fallen leaves enrich the soil still further by adding organic matter[303 ]. It is used as a temporary shade, windbreak or as a hedge[303 ]. An important green manure crop - rice yields, after a green manure crop was ploughed in 60 - 70 days after planting, are equal to those obtained with the application of about 80 kg N/ha of chemical fertilizer[303 ]. Other Uses A fibre, known as 'Dundee Fibre', is obtained from the stem[46 ]. It is used for making sails, nets etc[46 , 303 ]. The fibre is said to be very useful and durable when used in water-related activities. In durability and strength, it is reputed to be even superior to jute fibre (from Corchorus spp)[303 , 418 ]. The stems can also be a good source of pulp and paper[303 , 418 ]. The seed has been found to be a potential source of cheap galactomannan gum, as the plant can be cultivated on substandard soils without extra care or investment[303 ]. S. Bispinosa yields light, small-sized firewood. When fully grown and dried, it provides good fuel with a calorific value of 4281 kcal/kg[303 ].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of subtropical to tropical areas, where it is found at elevations up to 1,200 metres[418 ]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature falls within the range 18 - 30°c, though it can tolerate 10 - 34°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall of 700 - 1,200mm, but tolerates 500 - 2,900mm[418 ]. Prefers a sunny position[418 ]. Succeeds in heavy soils[303 ]. Grows well under both water-logged or non-irrigated conditions[303 ]. The plant is very tolerant of soil types, tolerating a pH ranging from 4.3 right up to 10[303 , 418 ]. The plant can become a weed in rice paddy fields[303 ]. A very fast growing plant, it competes well with weeds and may even suppress growth of Imperata cylindrica on sites where moisture is adequate[303 ]. A green manure crop can be produced in 2 - 3 months from seed, and a fuel wood or seed crop in 5 - 6 months[303 ]. Seed yields may be 600 - 1000 kg/ha, f[418 ]. If used as a green manure crop for rice, the plant should be ploughed in just before the rice is planted out[303 ]. Delaying the rice planting may lower its response to the green manure[303 ]. The leaves of sesbania follow the direction of sunlight and fold at night[303 ].

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Seed - no pre-treatment is required. The plants can easily be established by direct seeding[303 ]. The seed has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[K ]. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; a germination rate of 24% has been recorded following 41 years of open storage at room temperature[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Dhencha, Jananti, Jantar, Jayanti, Nardoo, Sevri, canicha, chinchani, danchi, danchi fibre, dhaincha, dhanicha, dhunsha, ettejangaa, ikad, ikkada, itka?a (root), itka?a(stem), jantar, jhanjhan, kitamu, mudchembai, mullu jinangi, nirchembai, raanshevari, sasee ikad, tentua, utka?a, vanajayanti.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Cambodia; India; Kenya; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nepal; Somalia; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Viet Nam; Zimbabwe, Africa, Angola, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Botswana, Burma, Cape Verde, Central Africa, China, Congo, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, Fiji, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Indochina, Iraq, Jamaica, Laos, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Namibia, Oman, Pacific, Pakistan, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, Virgin Islands, West Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

A very fast growing plant, it competes well with weeds and may even suppress growth of Imperata cylindrica on sites where moisture is adequate[303 ].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Sesbania grandifloraVegetable Hummingbird, Agati,Tree12.0 9-12 FLMHNMWe324
Sesbania herbaceaColorado River Hemp, Bigpod sesbaniaAnnual3.0 0-0  LMHSNM000
Sesbania sesbanSesbanShrub5.0 10-12 FLMHNMWe224

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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(Jacq.) W.Wight

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Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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