Sesbania grandiflora (L.) Pers.
Agati, Corkwood tree, West Indian pea
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
The tender leaves, green fruit, and flowers are eaten alone as a vegetable or
mixed into curries or salads. Flowers may be dipped in batter and fried in
butter. Tender portions serve as cattle fodder, (overeating is said to cause
diarrhea). Ripe pods apparently are not eaten. The inner bark can serve as
fiber and the white, soft wood not too durable, can be used for cork. The wood
is used, like bamboo, in Asian construction. The tree is grown as an
ornamental shade tree, and for reforestation. In Java, the tree is extensively
used as a pulp source. A gum resembling kino (called katurai), fresh when red,
nearly black after exposure, exudes from wounds. This astringent gum is
partially soluble in water and in alcohol, but applied to fishing cord, it
makes it more durable. Pepper vines (Piper nigrum) are sometimes grown
on and in the shade of the agati. According to NAS (1980a), this small tree
produces firewood, forage, pulp and paper, food, and green manure and appears
to hold promise for reforesting eroded and grassy wastelands throughout the
tropics. It combines well with agriculture (agroforestry) in areas where trees
are not normally grown and becomes an important fuelwood source. Dried and
powdered bark is used as a cosmetic in Java. Allen and Allen enumerated three
undesirable features (1) short lived (2) shallow-rooted and subject to wind
throw, and (3) prolific seeder, the pods often considered a litter. An aqueous
extract of bark is said to be toxic to cockroaches.
Resorted to be aperient, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, laxative,
and tonic, agati is a folk remedy for bruises, catarrh, dysentery, eyes,
fevers, headaches, smallpox, sores, sorethroat, and stomatitis (Duke and Wain,
1981). Bark, leaves, gums, and flowers are considered medicinal. The
astringent bark was used in treating smallpox and other eruptive fevers. The
juice from the flowers is used to treat headache, head congestion, or stuffy
nose. As a snuff, the juice is supposed to clear the nasal sinuses. Leaves
are poulticed onto bruises. Rheumatic swellings are poulticed or rubbed with
aqueous decoctions of the powdered roots of the red-flowered variant. In India
the flowers are sacred to Siva, representing both the male and female sex
organs; still I find no mention of their use as aphrodisiacs. Ayurvedics,
believing the fruits to be alexeteric, laxative, and intellectually
stimulating, prescribe them for anemia, bronchitis, fever, pain, thirst, and
tumors; the flowers, apertif and refrigerant, for biliousness, bronchitis,
gout, nyctalopia, ozoena, and quartan fever; the root for inflammation, the
bark as astringent; leaves, alexeteric, anthelmintic, for epilepsy, gout, itch,
leprosy, nyctalopia, and ophthalmia. Yunani consider the tonic leaves useful
in biliousness, fever, and nyctalopia. Indians apply the roots in rheumatism,
the juice of the leaves and flowers for headache and nasal catarrh. Mixed with
stramonium and pasted, the root is poulticed onto painful swellings. In
Amboina, flower juice is squeezed into the eye to correct dim vision. The bark
is used in infusions for smallpox. Cambodians consider the flowers emollient
and laxative, the bark for diarrhea, dysentery, and paludism. Malayans apply
crushed leaves to sprains and contusions. They gargle with the leaf juice to
cleanse the mouth and throat. In small doses, the bark is used for dysentery
and sprue, in large doses, laxative, in still larger doses, emetic. Pounded
bark is applied to scabies. Philippines use the pounded bark for hemoptysis.
The powdered bark is also recommended for ulcers of the mouth and alimentary
canal. In Java, the bark is used for thrush and infantile disorders of the
stomach. Leaves are chewed to disinfect the mouth and throat.
Per 100 g, the leaf is reported to contain 73.1 g H2O, 8.4 g protein, 1.4 g
fat, 11.8 g NFE, 2.2 g fiber, 3.1 g ash, 1,130 mg Ca, 80 mg P, 3.9 mg Fe, 9,000
IU vit. A, 0.21 mg thiamine, 0.09 mg riboflavin, 1.2 mg niacin, and 169 mg
ascorbic acid. Leaves contain (ZMB) per 100 g, 321 calories, 36.3 g protein,
7.5 g fat, 47.1 g carbohydrate, 9.2 g fiber, 9.2 g ash, 1684 mg Ca, 258 mg P,
21 mg Na, 2,005 mg K, 25,679 mg b-carotene equivalent, 1.00 mg thiamine,
1.04 mg riboflavin, 9.17 mg niacin and 242 mg ascorbic acid. The flowers (ZMB)
contain per 100 g, 345 calories, 14.5 g protein, 3.6 g fat, 77.3 g
carbohydrate, 10.9 g fiber, 4.5 g ash, 145 mg Ca, 290 mg P, 5.4 mg Fe, 291 mg
Na, 1,400 mg K, 636 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.91 mg thiamine, 0.72 mg
riboflavin, 14.54 mg niacin, and 473 mg ascorbic acid. Seeds (ZMB) contain
36.5% CP, 7.4% fat, 51.6% total carbohydrate, and 4.5% ash. The seed oil
contains 12.3% palmitic, 5.2% stearic, 26.2% oleic, and 53.4% linoleic acids.
The seed testa, which constitutes 20% of the seed, contains 5.2% moisture, 1.3%
ash, 0.8% fat, 2.7% CF, 0.1% free reducing sugars, 1.4% sucrose, 2.8% nitrogen,
6.3% pentosans, and 65.4% carbohydrates. Yields of 33% galactomannans are
reported for alkali extraction of the testae. Seeds allowed to germinate
(sprouts) for 120 hours increased vit. C content from 17166 mg/100 g.
Extracellular invertase of Rhizobia japonicum and its role in free sugar
metabolism in the developing root nodules was studied. The enzyme hydrolyzed
sucrose extracellularly, and its release was substrate inducible. 0.1 m
b-mercaptoethanol released the cell-bound form of this enzyme. The
production of invertase was low when glucose, galactose, mannose, fructose, and
farrinose were used as carbon sources in the growth medium. In the developing
nodules sucrose was the major sugar. The content of fructose was low in
comparison with that of glucose, suggesting that in the nodules the fructose is
converted to glucose prior to its entry into the bacterial cell. The content
of glucose synchronized with the pattern of change in the activity of invertase
in the nodules (Singh et al, 1980).
A small erect quick-growing short-lived soft-wooded tree to 10 m tall, 25 cm
DBH, sparsely branched. Bole straight and cylindrical, the wood white and
soft. Bark light gray, corky, deeply furrowed. Leaves pinnate, 1530 cm long,
with 1630 pairs of linear oblong leaflets. Racemes 2.5 cm long. Flowers 24,
white to pink, pendulous the corolla 79 cm long. Pods 5060 cm long.
Reported from the Indochina-Indonesia Center of Diversity, agati, or cvs
thereof, is reported to tolerate drought, heavy soils, poor soil, and
water-logging. Widely cultivated as ornamental or curio vegetable in tropical
Asia. (2n = 14, 24).
Native to many Asian countries, e.g., India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the
Philippines from sea level to 800 m, agati commonly grows on dikes between rice
paddies, along roadsides, and in backyard vegetable gardens. It has been
widely distributed in southern Florida and the West Indies and from southern
Mexico through most countries of Central America down to South America.
Cultivated in Mauritius (NAS, 1980a).
Apparently frost-sensitive, this species seems limited to the tropics. Ranging
from Tropical Dry through Tropical Moist Forest Life Zones, agati is reported
to tolerate annual precipitation of 4.8 to 22.5 dm (mean of 11 cases = 15.1),
annual temperature of 24.3 to 26.7°C (mean of 8 cases = 25.6), and pH of 6.6
Propagated readily by seeding or cuttings, requiring little maintenance. It
has been aerially seeded, apparently with success. For reforestation, Mendoza
(1980) recommends spacing cuttings ca 1 m long at 4 x 4 m. The saplings could
serve as a nurse crop for mahogany, Banquet pine, etc. Cuttings should be set
out at the beginning of the rainy season. When grown as shade plant for
coconut seedlings, agati is sown in India in June and July, putting 34 seed
per hole in a narrow channel, 30 cm x 30 cm, ca 1 m from the coconut seedlings.
When cultivated for fodder, agati is usually cut when ca 1 m tall. Indonesian
foresters, growing the species for fuelwood, harvest on a 5-year rotation. One
hectare can yield three m3 of stacked fuelwood in a 2-year rotation.
After the plant is harvested, shoots resprout with such vigor that they seem
irrepressible. The tree's outstanding quality is its rapid growth rate,
particularly during its first 3 or 4 years (NAS, 1980a).
Planted at 90 cm intervals, an agati plant yields 4.59.1 kg lvs/yr, which
translates to ca 12,000 plants per hectare yielding 50100 MT leaves per year
per hectare (C.S.I.R., 19481976), about 75% of which is water, suggesting DM
yields of 1225 MTha. Javanese have obtained 55 MT green matter per ha in 67
months. On a black, poorly structured clay, pH 8.5, in Australia, agati
outgrew all other species tested, attaining 4.35.5 (-8.3) m in one year's
Long been used as firewood in Southeast Asia, has been planted in several areas
in Indonesia to provide fuel and other products in "turinisation" projects
(after turi, the indigenous name). However, the wood is white, soft, and has a
rather low specific gravity of about 0.42, which is poor for fuelwood. Wood
yields of 2025 m3 per ha per year are commonly achieved in
plantations in Indonesia. Even when planted only along the edges of
agricultural fields, as in Java, yields of 3 m3 of stacked firewood
per ha from 2-year rotation periods have been recorded. The wood weighs 512 kg
m3. Charcoal is used for gunpowder (C.S.I.R., 19481976). If 25 MT
of dry leaves are available, then certainly there must be 510 MT stem as well,
all of which could be diverted to energy.
Described as very susceptible to nematodes, agati is said to have been damaged
by birds and grasshoppers in northern Australia. Colletotrichum capsici
causes seedling blight, forming elongated or oblong cankers on the collar
region of affected seedlings. The cankers, controlled with a Bordeaux spray,
have black bristle-like tufts of setae. Nematodes include Heterodera
trifolii and Meloidogyne sp. (Golden, p.c. 1984). Cercospora
sesbaniae infects agathi. The Drosophilid fly Protostegana
lateralis is a serious pest in Tamil Nadu. The maggots bore into the
tender shoots of mature plants causing a gradual wilting of affected parts.
The weevil Alcidodes buko causes serious damage to young crop both in
adult and larval stage. It bites holes through leaves and bores the stem
causing gall-like swellings DDT (0.05%) and BHC dust (5%) are cheap and
effective; Product 1250 and Parathion are also effective against the grub. The
larvae of Azygophleps scalaris tunnel through the stem and eat the
contents leaving only the epidermis. The plant becomes weak and breaks off at
the slightest jerk. Uprooting the stumps immediately after harvesting and
burning them may prove effective means of control. Otinotus oneratus,
the common 'tree hopper' infests agati from July to February (C.S.I.R.,
19481976). Sesbania seedlings are highly receptive to infection by
their homologous rhizobia, but different species have restricted susceptibility
profiles. Sesbania rhizobia have a rather restricted host range. Rhizobia
from alfalfa, clover, lupines, peas, soybeans failed to nodulate Sesbania
species and vice versa.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Mendoza, V.B. 1980. Katurai: a plant of many uses. Canopy International (Aug.
- N.A.S. 1980a. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production.
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
- Singh, R., Sidhu, P.S., Vadhera, S., Sital, J.S., Bhatia, S. 1980.
Extra-cellular invertase of Rhizobium japonicum and its role in free
sugar metabolism in the developing root nodules of Sesbania grandiflora.
Physiologia Plantarum 48(4):504508.
Last update Friday, January 9, 1998 by aw