Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Sesbania formosa (F.Muell.) N.T.Burb.

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Flowers. © Australian Plant Image Index (APII). Photographer: M. Fagg.
Habit and leaves. © R.L. Barrett
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Burbidge, N.T. (1965) Australian Journal of Botany 13: 115.

Common name

White Dragon Tree; Vegetable Humming Bird; Swamp Corkwood; Dragon Tree; Dragon Flower Tree


Bark pale and corky.


Petiole and compound leaf axis grooved or channelled on the upper surface. Leaflet blades about 20-30 x 5-11 mm, aristate at the apex. Stipules +/- triangular, about 7-8 mm long, broad at the base but tapering to a point at the apex. Filiform stipels present at the base of the leaflet stalks.


Inflorescences shorter than the leaves. Flowers large, calyx about 20-25 mm long, lobes about 5 mm long. Petals variable, distinctly clawed, larger petals about 90-100 mm long. Stamens 10, the filaments of nine stamens fused to form a tube open on one side, one stamen free. Ovary glabrous, stalked, containing numerous ovules.


Pods linear, pendulous, terete-compressed, septate between the seeds, pods about 200-600 x 7-9 mm. Seeds numerous, about 15-50, transverse, about 6-7 mm long, flattened but turgid.


Cotyledons obovate, about 18-20 mm long. At the tenth leaf stage: leaflet blades oblong or obovate, glabrous, apex obtuse or mucronate, base cuneate; petiole and rhachis of compound leaf glabrous; stipules narrowly linear-triangular. Seed germination time 5 to 6 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in WA and NT, perhaps extending into CYP. Altitudinal range small, from sea level to 100 m. Grows in rain forest and similar closed forests or swampy sites particularly on heavy clay soils.

Agati formosum F.Muell., Fragm. 2: 88(1860), Type: Fitzmaurice River, Oct. 1855, F. Mueller: lecto: MEL 1336. Sesbania grandiflora Poir., : ().
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