Durban Early Detection and Rapid Response

Red Sesbania Sesbania punicea

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Common Name
Red Sesbania
CARA Category 1

The Red Sesbania has its origins in South America and belongs to the Fabaceae family. It typically grows into a deciduous shrub or tree up to 4m tall. It has drooping, dark green leaves with oblong leaflets that end in tiny, pointed tips. Flowers are produced from September to March, are red or orange, and form dense sprays up to 25cm long. It also has brown, four-winged pods that are 6-8cm long and are 10mm wide. The seeds, leaves and flowers are poisonous. This plant spread via seed dispersal.

Sesbania punicea on River bank
Sesbania punicea seed pod
Why is it a problem?
Mechanical and chemical methods are both effective for the control of Red Sesbania. Cut-stump treatment and foliar treatment are useful means of eradication. Biological control is viable, and in the 1980s three weevil species were imported for testing and later released in South Africa. The impact of these agents has been dramatic in that both the spread and density of Red Sesbania populations have reduced considerably.
Control method
It competes with, and has the potential to replace, indigenous species. It is also poisonous, especially the seeds which are lethal to birds, mammals and reptiles.
Where is it a problem?
It is found in all provinces in South Africa.

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