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Sesbania grandiflora - (L.) Pers.

Common Name Vegetable Hummingbird, Agati,
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry wasteland and roadsides[307 ].
Range E. Asia - Probably originally from Malaysia and/or Indonesia, but original habitat is uncertain.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Sesbania grandiflora Vegetable Hummingbird, Agati,

Sesbania grandiflora Vegetable Hummingbird, Agati,


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A short-lived and fast-growing plant with loose branches and open crown, Vegetable Hummingbird (Sesbania grandiflora) can grow up to 15 m in height and 30 cm in bole diameter usually in East Asia. The leaves are rounded, the flowers are red and oblong, and the fruits are flat, long, and thin. It serves many purposes and one of which is as food. The flowers, seedpods, young leaves and shoots can be consumed raw or cooked. The seeds can be fermented into tempeh. The bark yields a clear gum used in foods and as substitute to gum arabic. The plant also has medicinal uses. It is used for sprains, bruises, swellings, rheumatism, itching, diarrhea, colic, dysentery, diabetes, fever, sinus congestion, and malaria. Further, it has capability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and can be used as green manure to improve soil conditions. It can also be planted as windbreak and shade tree in plantations. The wood is soft and light, used as poles, in floating fishings nets, for fuel and charcoal-making. It is also a major source of pulp for making paper.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Sesbania grandiflora is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. The flowers are pollinated by Birds.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Aeschynomene grandiflora L. Agati grandiflora (L.) Desv. Robinia grandiflora L. Sesbania aegyptiaca

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Seed  Seedpod  Shoots
Edible Uses: Condiment  Gum  Tea

Flowers - raw or cooked[301 ]. Added to salads, boiled as a potherb, fried or used in curries[46 , 301 ]. Considered a delicacy in India[307 ]. Rich in sugar and iron, with a flavour like mushrooms[301 ]. The centre part of the flower is usually removed because it is very bitter[301 ]. White flowers are generally preferred to red ones[303 ]. Seedpods - raw or cooked[46 ]. The long, narrow pods are boiled and eaten like string beans[301 , 303 ]. The very young seedpods can be added to salads[302 ]. The pods can be up to 50cm long and 8mm wide[303 ]. Seed. The protein rich seeds are fermented into tempeh[301 ]. Young leaves and shoots - raw or cooked[301 , 303 ]. Added to salads, cooked as a potherb or added to stews[301 ]. A clear gum obtained from the bark is used in foods[303 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Anthelmintic  Antibiotic  Antidiarrhoeal  Antipyretic  Antirheumatic  Antitumor  Aperient  Astringent  
Diuretic  Dysentery  Emollient  Febrifuge  Laxative  Malaria  Ophthalmic  
Poultice  Tonic

The leaves are aperient and diuretic[272 ]. Crushed leaves are applied as a poultice to sprains and bruises of all kinds, swellings, rheumatism, itching etc[303 ]. A tea made from the leaves is believed to have antibiotic, anthelmintic, antitumor and contraceptive properties[303 ]. The bitter bark is considered as an astringent, febrifuge, tonic and an antipyretic, a remedy for gastric troubles, colic with diarrhoea and dysentery[46 , 272 , 303 ]. A bark decoction is taken orally to treat fever, diarrhoea, dysentery and diabetes[272 , 303 ]. The flowers are emollient and laxative[272 ]. Juice of the flowers, put in the eyes, is said to relieve dimness of vision[303 ]. Sinus congestion is reduced by taking a decoction of the flowers[303 ]. The root is a well-known medicine for malaria[303 ]. Root juices are used for poultices[303 ]. A paste of the root is applied externally in the treatment of rheumatism[272 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Adhesive  Biomass  Charcoal  Fencing  Fibre  Fodder  Fuel  Green manure  Gum  Mulch  Paper  Plant support  Shelterbelt  Soil conditioner  Soil reclamation  Tannin  Wood

Small flowering tree. Specimen. Large planter, Xerophytic, Conservatory. Agroforestry Uses: Fast growing, with an extensive root system that fixes atmospheric nitrogen, the plant is ideal for rehabilitating eroded hills[303 ]. The fruits, falling leaflets and flowers make excellent green manure or mulch and improve soil fertility[303 ]. The plant has been used to provide shade in nurseries; for some plantation crops such as coffee, tea and cocoa; and as a windbreak for citrus, banana and coffee[404 ]. It can be used as a living fence, as shelterbelt, or as a live support for crops such as vanilla and pepper[404 ]. Crops continue to grow well when interplanted with this species since its open canopy allows sunlight to pass[404 ]. Other Uses: Bark exudate and seed endosperm gums are produced. The clear bark gum is used in adhesives as a substitute for gum arabic[303 ]. The bark yields tannins[272 , 303 ]. The white wood is soft and rather light. The density of the wood increases with age, however, and the timber from 5 to 8 year-old trees can be used in house construction or as craft wood[303 , 404 ]. The trunk has been used for poles but may not last long due to rot and insect infestation[303 ]. The light wood is used in floating fishing nets[303 ]. The wood is a major source of pulp for use in making paper. The fibres are short and they can also be blended with long-fibred bamboo pulp in suitable proportions in order to give good strength[303 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[404 ]. It is not highly regarded as a fuel because it smokes excessively when burning. Having a weight of only 500 kg/square metre, it burns rapidly without much heat. But the tree's fast growth and availability within a year of planting make it a locally popular fuel wood[303 ]. The wood should be well dried, as it deteriorates in storage and becomes corky, dusty and unfit for burning. Its calorific value is 17.91 MJ/kg, with a high ash content (6%) and low percentage of carbon (11.7%)[303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Fodder: Bank  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

Well adapted to hot, humid environments in the lowland tropics[303 ]. It succeeds at elevations below 1,000 metres with a mean annual temperature in the range 22 - 30°c, and a mean annual rainfall of 2,000 - 4,000 mm, exceptionally tolerating rainfall as low as 800mm per year[303 ]. It lacks tolerance for cool temperatures below about 10°c[303 ]. It seems to prefer a bimodal rainfall distribution, growing rapidly during the wet season, but is capable of withstanding prolonged dry seasons of up to 9 months[303 ]. Requires a sunny position for best growth[404 ]. Prefers a fertile, moist but well-drained moderately light soil, though it succeeds in light sandy, medium, heavy clayey and low fertility soils[200 , 302 , 404 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 8.5, but can tolerate acid conditions down to 4.5[404 ]. Requires a position sheltered from strong winds[303 ]. The plant has an outstanding ability to tolerate waterlogging and is ideally suited to seasonally flooded environments[303 ]. When flooded, it initiates floating, adventitious roots, and protects their stems[303 ]. The species is very fast growing, but does not live long - it has a life span of about 20 years[303 ]. Plants have reached a height of 3.2 metres in just 9 months when raised in loamy soils, but only 1.8 metres when growing in sandy soils[303 ]. The plant tends to grow too quickly, resulting in brittle and weak limbs[307 ]. At a very short rotation of 3 - 4 years, the tree is capable of producing much higher cellulose raw material per unit area than most other pulp woods[303 ]. Even trees 3 - 4 years old can be pulped without debarking and are suitable for chemical pulping for use as cheap printing, writing, magazine and newsprint paper[303 ]. On a 3-year rotation, about 41 tonnes of pulp per hectare per year can be harvested[303 ]. Young plants respond well to the first time they are coppiced, but tend to copice less well with repeated cuttings[404 ]. Plants can flower all year round[307 ]. There are some named varieties[301 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200 , 404 ] Flowering Time: Blooms all year. Bloom Color: Red White/Near White. Spacing: 10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m).

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living trellis  Plants to physically support other crops.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it 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[302 ]. Easily propagated by direct seeding[303 ]. It is not hard seeded and usually germinates well without scarification[303 ]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Butterfly Tree, Corkwood tree, Gallito, Cresta de Gallo, Báculo, Agache, Agase, Agasta, Agasti phul, Agasti, Agathi, Agati, Agatoio, Agthio, Agust, Agusta, Ai-turi, Akatthi, Anari, Angkie dei, Athi, Avasinana, Avesi, Ayathio, Bagphal, Bak, Bakapushpam, Bakphul, Basna, Bokful, Bokphul, Buko, Chuchurangmei, Corkwood tree, Daun Turi, Dok khae baan, Geti, Hatiya, Kacang Turi, Kambang tuli, Katuray, Katurumurunga kolle, Ke, Khae baan, Khae-khao, Madga, Ogosti, Peragathi, Scarlet Wisteria tree, Sesban, Shevari, Shiro-gochou, So dua, Swamp pea, Ta-hua, Tien-tsing, Toroj, Turi, Vegetable hummingbird, West Indian Pea Tree, agase, agasti phul, agastya, agathi, agati, baby boots, dhaincha, gallito, hummingbird tree|kathuru murunga, itkata, ofai, picashia, po-son-cha, scarlet wistaria-tree, ses bania, sesbania, spanish armada, vegetable hummingbird, vegetable-hummingbird, west indian-pea.

Africa, Andamans, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, Djibouti, East Africa, East Timor, Ethiopia, Fiji, French Guiana, Gabon, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia*, Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Marianas, Martinique, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Reunion, SE Asia, Seychelles, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South America, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Yemen,

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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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.


Expert comment


(L.) Pers.

Botanical References

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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