Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Sesbania herbacea, Bigpod Sesbania

Sesbania herbacea, Bigpod Sesbania Sesbania herbacea, Bigpod Sesbania Sesbania herbacea, Bigpod Sesbania

Scientific Name: Sesbania herbacea
Common Name: Bigpod Sesbania

Also Called:Big-pod Sesbania, Big-podded Sesbania, Coffee Bean, Coffeeweed, Colorado River Hemp, Colorado River-hemp, Danglepod, Egyptian River-hemp, Hemp Sesbania, Long-pod Sesban, Long-pod Sesbania, Long-podded Sesban, Peatree, Sesbania, Tall Indigo, Wild Hempsesbania, Wild Hemp-sesbania (Spanish: Baiquillo, Baiguiyo)

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: (Aeschynomene emerusmm, Darwinia exaltata, Sesban emerus, Sesbania emerus, Sesban exaltatus, Sesbania exaltata, Sesbania macrocarpa, Sesbania sesban)

Status: Native and also introduced.

Duration: Annual, perennial;

Size: 3 to 9 feet (.91-2.7 m) or so.

Growth Form: forb/herb, Subshrub; semi-woody, stems glabrous branches freely wide-spread.

Leaves: Green, bright green; large leaves up to 1 foot (.3 m) long, pinnately compound, leaflets, oblong.

Flower Color: Yellow or yellow-orange with flecks of purple or brown; pea-like flower, 2 to 6 bell shaped flowers; fruit is a linear pod.

Flowering Season: March or April and later, to October across it's wide geographic range.

Elevation: Up to 1,500 feet (457 m) or higher.

Habitat Preferences: Around irrigation ditches, moist habitats and year-round streams; alluvial soils.

Recorded Range: South central United States and southwest states; AL, AR, AZ, CA, FL, GA, IL, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NY, OK, PA, TN, TX and VA. Although listed as a native in North America, Bigpod Sesbania is possibly native only the southeastern states where moisture is abundant and introduced elsewhere. Also native throughout Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Sesbania herbacea.

North America species range map for Bigpod Sesbania, Sesbania herbacea:

North America species range map for Bigpod Sesbania, Sesbania herbacea:
Click image for full size map.

U.S. Weed Information: Considered a weed in Arizona.

Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Sesbania herbacea is listed as a Noxious Weed by the State of Arkansas, Sesbania exaltata, Tall Indigo, Coffee Bean, Noxious Weed. Plants included here are invasive or noxious.
International Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: 1The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, (CABI), and 2The Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) has identified Sesbania herbacea as an “Invasive Species and Host Plant”.

1The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England; The US Department of Agriculture is a lead partner with CABI.

2The Invasive Species Compendium (ISC) is an encyclopedic resource that brings together a wide range of different types of science-based information to support decision-making in invasive species management worldwide.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Sesbania herbacea has the following wetland designations;

  • Arid West, FACW;
  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FACW;
  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FAC;
  • Great Plains, FACW;
  • Midwest, FACW;
  • Northcentral & Northeast, FACW;
  • Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACW.

  • FACW = Facultative Wetland, usually occur in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands
    FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands

    Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

    Genus Information: In North America, USDA Plants Database lists 16 species and accepted taxa overall for Sesbania. Worldwide, World Flora Online includes 144 accepted species names and a further 31 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

    The genus Sesbania (Sesban'ia:) was published by Michel Adanson in 1763.

    In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 1 species of Sesbania, California has 2 species, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah have 0 species and Texas has 5 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.

    Comments: Bigpod Sesbania is listed as a native species in the United States and also considered an invasive species in certain locations including Arizona.

    In the past Bigpod Sesbania has been used as a soil-improvement crop on farms in the southwest. It is a fiber plant and produces strong threads and have apparently been used by Southwest Arizona Native Americans for nets and fish lines (Arizona Flora). This plant is toxic to livestock.

    Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
    Bigpod Sesbania, Sesbania herbacea has small but attractive flowers, the flowers, their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar and protection through cover.

    Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
    Bigpod Sesbania, Sesbania herbacea has small pea-like attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited or used by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, native bees and other insects in search of nectar, food or shelter and protection.

    The genus “Sesbania” is derived from the Arabic name "sesban", one of the species of the genus.

    The genus Sesbania (Sesban'ia:) was published by Michel Adanson in 1763.

    The species epithet herbacea (herba'cea:) means herbaceous and not woody.

    The current taxon Sesbania herbacea was described in 1987 by Rogers McVaugh (1909-2009).

    The original taxon Emerus herbacea was described in 1768 by Philip Miller, (1691-1771).

    Ethnobotany - Native American Ethnobotany; University of Michigan - Dearborn
    According to Arizona Flora, Bigpod herbacea apparently been used by Southwest Arizona Native Americans for nets and fish lines.

    Date Profile Completed: 09/09/2015, updated 03/27/2022
    References and additional information:
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Sesbania macrocarpa.; Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed on-line; 03/22/2022.
    World Flora Online; A Project of the World Flora Online Consortium; An Online Flora of All Known Plants - (accessed on-line 03/22/2022)
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 03/27/2022). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    CABI, 2022. Sesbania herbacea. In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. (accessed on-line; 03/27/2022)
    Wikipedia contributors. "Sesbania herbacea." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Jul. 2021. Web. 27 Mar. 2022.
    Kitty F.Parker, 1972; An Illustrated Guide to Arizona Weeds; The University of Arizona Press
    Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    Etymology: Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed on-line; 03/27/2022)
    IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved on-line; 22 March 2022].