Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Sesbania cannabina (Retz.) Poir.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit [not vouchered]. CC-BY J.L. Dowe
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Poiret, J.L.M. (1806) Encyclopédie Méthodique, Botanique 7: 130.

Common name

Yellow Pea Bush; Sesbania Pea


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1-2 m tall.


Stipules narrowly triangular, about 5-6 mm long. Leaflet blades about 5-22 x 1.5-5 mm.


Calyx about 3-4 mm long with five +/- equal lobes. Standard about 6-10 mm long, spotted (reddish, brown or purple) on the outer surface. Stamens 10, the filaments of nine stamens fused and one stamen free. Ovary and style glabrous.


Pods cylindrical, long and narrow, about 120-200 x 2-3 mm, slightly constricted between the seeds when dry. Seeds about 38 per pod, +/- cylindrical, about 3-4 x 1-2 mm, hilum lateral. Cotyledons green.


Cotyledons broadly oblong, about 15-17 x 6 mm, petioles 1.5-2 mm long. First leaf simple, oblong, elliptic to slightly obovate, about 17 x 5.5 mm, apex mucronate, base obtuse, petiole about 2 mm long. Second leaf compound with about 8 opposite leaflets. Leaflets oblong to elliptical, about 13.5-16 x 4-4.5 mm, apex mucronate, base obtuse and oblique. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves compound with 40 or more leaflets in each leaf, leaflet blades oblong with a mucro at the apex. Stipules narrowly triangular, about 7 mm long. Small peg-like glands present on the upper surface of the compound leaf axis at the point of attachment of each leaflet. Seed germination time 8 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards to Victoria and South Australia. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 300 m. Often growing in saline situations on heavy clay soils in open forest but occasionally found on the margins of rain forest, monsoon forest or vine thickets. Also occurs in Africa, India, China, Malesia and the Pacific islands.

Natural History & Notes

Low to moderate palatability. Tolerant of salinity and alkalinity. May cause weed problems on heavy soils under irrigation. Hacker (1990).


Aeschynomene cannabina Retz., Observ. Bot. 5: 26(1789).  Sesbania australis F.Muell., Transactions and Proceedings of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science 1: 36 (1855), Type: "on the Darling River.".

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