Sesbania sesban - (L.) Merr.
Common Name Sesban
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Fresh seeds are poisonous to humans but are eaten after soaking for 3 days and then cooking[418 ].
Habitats Common along streams, swamp banks and moist and inundated bottomlands[303 ].
Range Africa, through Arabia, southern Asia to Australia. Widely naturalised in other areas of the tropics.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun

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Sesbania sesban, otherwise known as Sesban or Egyptian river hemp is a nitrogen-fixing tree belonging in the legume family. It grows up to 7 m in height with many side branches from low down on the bole. It is vigorous but short-lived, living only up to 10 years. The flowers can be cooked and the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. The seeds can be grounded into a powder and fermented to make a paste used as a flavoring. The roots and leaves are used medicinally for scorpion stings, boils, and abscesses. In addition, the leaves are used in the treatment of sore throat, gonorrhea, syphilis, and jaundice. Seed oil has medicinal properties as well. Bark from this plant yields fiber which are useful for making ropes and nets. The bark, as well as the seeds, produces gum. The wood is used for making arrow, pipes, toys, and other items but more commonly used as firewood and for charcoal production.

Sesbania sesban Sesban
Sesbania sesban Sesban
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Sesbania sesban is a SHRUB growing to 5 m (16ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. and are pollinated by Bees.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: 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 and can tolerate drought. The plant is not wind tolerant.

Aeschynomene sesban L. Sesban aegyptiacus Poir. Sesbania aegyptiaca (Poir.) Pers. Sesbania punctata

Edible Uses
Flowers - cooked[301 , 418 ]. They are included, perhaps as a decorative or festive ingredient, in foods such as omelettes[303 ]. The leaves and flowers are eaten as vegetable[301 , 317 ]. The seeds are ground into a powder and fermented to make a paste, known as 'soumbara', used as a flavouring[301 ]. Fresh seeds are poisonous to humans but are eaten after soaking for 3 days and then cooking[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 fresh roots and leaves are used to treat scorpion stings, boils and abscesses[303 ]. The leaves are considered to have antibiotic, anthelmintic, antitumor and contraceptive properties[303 ]. A decoction is used to treat sore throat, gonorrhoea, syphilis, spasmodic fits in children and jaundice during pregnancy[303 ]. An oil obtained from the seeds is accorded special properties in ayurvedic medicine and is reported to have antibacterial, cardiac depressant and hypoglycaemic actions[303 ]. The saponin, stigmasta-galactopyranoside, which is isolated from the seeds, shows spermicidal and haemolytic activity[303 ].


Other Uses
Agroforestry Uses: This tree should prove to be an excellent pioneer species for establishing native woodland and woodland gardens[K ]. It is fast-growing, short-lived, fixes atmospheric nitrogen, provides a large bulk for revitalising the soil, and has a wide range of uses[K ]. The plant has been used to shade plantations of coffee, tea and cocoa[303 ]. It has also been used to provide a windbreak for bananas, citrus and coffee[303 ]. The growing plant will increase soil nitrogen levels through symbiotic interaction with bacteria, it has the ability to stabilize soil, and in Asia has been used as green manure for rice[303 ]. Its branches have been used as mulch and leaves as a green manure[303 ]. It improves soil fertility in a short-term rotation fallow[303 ]. The plant is also useful in combating the parasitic plant striga weed (Striga hermonthica). It stimulates the Striga weed to germinate, but is unsuitable as a host, so the Striga dies unless it can find another host nearby[303 ]. Some studies indicate that a one year fallow with this plant can increase maize yields from 2 to 4 tonnes per hectare without the application of nitrogen fertilizer[303 ]. It is a promising shrub for alley cropping because it is easy to establish, grows rapidly, coppices readily and provides mulch material of high nutrient content (particularly nitrogen)[303 ]. In some climates, such as in the highlands of Kenya, it may have a sparse canopy, and weed competition can be a problem[303 ]. The trees are suitable for use as live trellises for growing pepper plants (Piper spp.) on[303 ]. Other Uses Fibres obtained from the bark are used for making ropes and nets[46 , 303 , 317 ]. It has the potential for pulpwood production[303 ]. The saponin, stigmasta-galactopyranoside, which is isolated from the seeds, has glucuronide derivatives of oleanolic acid, which has been shown to have molluscicidal activity against Biophalaria glabrata, one of the known snail vectors of schistosomiasis[303 ]. The seeds and bark produce a gum[303 ]. The wood is used traditionally for making arrows, pipes, toys etc[418 ]. A popular crop for firewood and charcoal because it produces a high woody biomass in a short time, which, although soft, is relatively smokeless, quick kindling and hot burning[303 ]. The calorific yield for a 3-year-old tree is approximately 4350 kcal/kg[303 ].
Cultivation details
Agroforestry Services: Alley crop;  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;  Staple Crop: Protein.

A plant of the subtropics, also succeeding at higher elevations in the tropics, being found at elevations of 100 - 2,300 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28?c, but can tolerate 10 - 45?c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -5?c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1?c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 - 2,000mm, but tolerates m350 - 2,500m[418 ]. Requires a sunny position[418 ]. Tolerates saline, acidic and alkaline soils[303 ]. The plant has an outstanding ability to withstand waterlogging and is ideally suited to seasonally flooded environments. When flooded, it initiates floating, adventitious roots and protects its stems, roots and nodules with spongy, aerenchyma tissue[303 ]. It also shows some tolerance to moisture stress and tolerates soil alkalinity and salinity to a considerable degree[303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4 - 9.9[418 ]. A fast-growing, but short-lived plant, often dying before it is 10 years old[303 , 418 ]. It has been reported to attain a height of 4 - 5 metres in only 6 months[303 ]. It thrives under repeated cuttings and coppices readily, with many branches arising from the main stem below cutting height[303 ]. Cutting frequencies are generally 3 - 4 cuts/annum, but up to 8 cuts are made in some areas[303 ]. Yields have ranged from 4 to 12 tonnes/hectare dry matter per year, depending on location[303 ]. Cutting height can also influence yield, with cutting heights of 50 - 76 cm favouring plant survival and productivity[303 ]. 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 ]. The rhizobium requirements vary. There is a host-strain interaction, and different accessions of the plant require different strains of bacteria[303 ].
Seed - requires pre-treatment to soften the hard seedcoat and allow the ingress of water[303 ]. This can be done by soaking the seed in a small amount of nearly boiling water (which cools down quickly and does not cook the seed) and then soaking the seed for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. Alternatively, a small area of the seed coat can be abraded, being careful not to damage the embryo[K ]. The germination rate of treated seed is about 65% in about 16 days[303 ]. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox. Viability can be maintained for 2 years in open storage at room temperature[303 ].
Other Names
Alambu, Arisina jeenangi, Barya-jantis, Champai, Checheko, Chithagathi, Ekad, Jaint, Jainti, Jait, Jarjan, Jayant, Jayanti, Jayantika, Jayantri, Jayat, Jayati, Jayatiphul, Jintri, Joyontri, Karijeenangimara, Karunchembai, Kedangu, Mbondo, Muzimbandeya, Mwethia, Nellithalai, Raishingin, Rawasan, River bean, Samintha, Sassadenha, Sempa, Shevri, Shewarie, Suiminta, Thaitimul, Tingkwanga, Torero, Zamarke,
Found In
Cape Verde; Mauritania; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Mali; Burkina Faso; Ghana; Niger; Chad; Togo; Benin; Nigeria; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Egypt; Sudan; South Sudan; Ethiopia; Somalia; Uganda; Burundi; Rwanda; Tanzania, United Republic of; Kenya; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Angola; Zambia; Zimbabwe; Mozambique; Botswana; Swaziland; South Africa; Namibia, Afghanistan, Africa, Asia, Australia, Bahrain, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cameroon, Central Africa, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, East Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Africa, Northeastern India, Pakistan, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Vietnam, West Africa, Zambia, 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.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed
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Sesbania bispinosaPrickly Sesban22
Sesbania grandifloraVegetable Hummingbird, Agati,32
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(L.) Merr.
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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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Subject : Sesbania sesban  

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