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Agati (Sesbania grandiflora)


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Common names 

Agati, agathi, scarlet wistaria tree, vegetable hummingbird, West Indian pea [English]; agati à grandes fleurs, colibri végétal, fagotier, fleur papillon, gros mourongue, pois valette, pois valier, sesbanie à larges fleurs [French]; baculo, báculo, cresta de gallo, gallito, pico de flamenco, sesbania agata, zapaton blanco [Spanish]; turi [Indonesian]; katurai, katuray [Tagalog]; so đũa [Vietnamese]; سيسبانيا كبيرة الأوراق [Arabic]; अगस्ति, अगासती, बसना, गाछ मूंगा, हटिया, सेसवैनिया ग्रैन्डीफ्लोरा, अगेति/समय से पहले [Hindi]; ดอกแค, ดอกแคบ้าน,แคบ้าน,แคแกง, แคขาว แค แดง [Thai]


Aeschynomene grandiflora (L.) L., Agati grandiflora (L.) Desv., Robinia grandiflora L., Sesban grandiflorus Poir.

Feed categories 

Agati (Sesbania grandiflora (L.) Pers.) is a legume tree used for fodder in humid tropical regions.


Sesbania grandiflora is a fast-growing perennial, deciduous or evergreen legume tree, up to 10-15 m high (Ecocrop, 2010). Its lifespan is about 20 years (Heering et al., 1992). Its roots are heavily nodulated and some floating roots may develop in waterlogged conditions. The trunk is straight with few branches. The leaves, up to 30 cm long, are pinnately compound with 20-50 oblong leaflets, 1-4 cm long and 0.5-1.5 cm broad. The flowers are white, yellowish, pink or red and borne in axillary racemes. The pods are 50-60 cm long, glabrous and indehiscent, and hang vertically. They contain 15 to 50 dark brown seeds, 5 mm long and 2.5-3 mm broad (Ecocrop, 2010; Cook et al., 2005).


Sesbania grandiflora is a valued fodder for ruminants. It is used in grazed paddocks as mature trees are out of browse height, or as cut-and-carry forage integrated into cropping systems. Its low tolerance to defoliation makes it badly suited to direct grazing (Cook et al., 2005). Little or no breeding work has been undertaken. In Indonesia, early flowering varieties are preferred and selected for by local farmers in Lombok, where flowers are an important food crop, while later flowering varieties predominate in West Timor, where the species is primarily used as a cut and carry cattle feed (Cook et al., 2005). The leaves, flowers and pods of Sesbania grandiflora are eaten as a vegetable in Southeast Asia. The dried leaves are used for their ethno-medicinal properties (FAO, 2010; Duke, 1983; Gutteridge et al., 1994). Other uses include firewood and green manure.


Sesbania grandiflora is native to Asia and is now widespread in most humid tropical regions of the world. It is often cultivated on the low dikes between rice fields (Göhl, 1982) or in association with Guinea grass (Cook et al., 2005).

Optimal growth conditions are 22-30°C mean annual temperatures, 2000-4000 mm annual rainfall, at an altitude from sea level up to 800-1000 m (Cook et al., 2005). Agati is adapted to a wide range of rainfall zones and soil types. It can be grown on heavy clay, alkaline and saline soils, as well as poorly drained soils and poorly fertilized soils (FAO, 2010). During waterlogging and floods, it develops floating adventitious roots and protective spongy tissue. Agati withstands acidic soils (Heering et al., 1992), 6- to 7-month drought periods (Ecocrop, 2010) and can survive with 800 mm annual rainfall. It is intolerant of high winds that can break stems and branches (Cook et al., 2005). It does not thrive in temperatures below 10°C (FAO, 2010). 

Forage management 

Sesbania grandiflora is notable for its rapid early growth (up to 2 m high within 100 days after seedling). In Java an annual yield of 27 kg of green leaf/tree was achieved by harvesting side branches every 3-4 months, and a green manure yield of 55 t/ha green material in 6.5 months was achieved (Cook et al., 2005). If the trees are cut back to a suitable height, a large supply of fresh fodder can be obtained for most of the dry season, when only rice straw and dry grass are otherwise available (Göhl, 1982).

Environmental impact 

Sesbania grandiflora has several environmental benefits. As a fast-growing, N-fixing legume, it is used for the reforestation of eroded areas and to improve soil fertility. It is often planted to make fence lines or as shade tree, windbreak and support for other crops (pepper vines, vanilla) (Duke, 1983; Heering et al., 1992).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The crude protein content of Sesbania grandiflora foliage is generally greater than 20% and often above 25-30% DM (Suchitra et al., 2008; Cook et al., 2005). It contains less fibre than other major tropical legumes such as Gliricidia sepium and Leucaena leucocephala (Van Eys et al., 1986). The NDF content was estimated to be 29 and 37% of DM, and the ADF content to be 15.6 and 25.8% of DM (Suchitra et al., 2008; Van Eys et al., 1986). The acid detergent insoluble N content was 2.1% of total N, whereas lignin content was estimated to be 4-8% of DM (Reed et al., 1987; Van Eys et al., 1986).

Potential constraints 

Information on antinutritional factors in Sesbania fodders is limited. Sesbania grandiflora foliage and flowers contain sterols, saponins and tannins (Fojas et al., 1982). The levels of condensed tannins and crude saponins in the leaves were estimated to be 4 and 2% DM respectively (Suchitra et al., 2008). Sesbania grandiflora also contains canavanine, whose nutritional implications are little known, and a toxin poisonous to fish (Cook et al., 2005). Agati foliage should not be fed to poultry and only as a supplement (< 30%) to ruminants (Ash et al., 1992).


Sesbania grandiflora is a good source of fodder, particularly during drought periods (Cook et al., 2005). The leaves, the young branches and the pods are very palatable to cattle (Gutteridge et al., 1995; NAS, 1979). Sesbania grandiflora is a major component of ruminant diets in Eastern Indonesia where it may comprises up to 70% of total forage allowance during the dry season (Cook et al., 2005). For instance, in the Lombok Island, it is one of the most readily available feeds offered to goats both as a mixed or sole diet (Dahlanuddin, 2001). Sesbania herbage generally supplements low quality roughages such as straws, crop residues or dried grasses. This dilutes the effects of antinutritional factors and greatly improves the utilization of roughages (Gutteridge et al., 1995).

Digestibility and degradability

The digestibility and degradability of Sesbania grandiflora dry matter and nutrients are generally high and compare favourably to those of other common legumes species such as gliricidia and leucaena. Dry matter digestibility of Sesbania species is superior to that of most other tree and shrub legumes (Gutteridge et al., 1994). In northeast Thailand, the in vitro dry matter digestibility of Sesbania grandiflora (66%) was higher than that of 15 other tree legumes (Akkasaeng et al., 1989). The digestibility of crude protein, NDF, ADF and cellulose were significantly higher in rams fed Sesbania than in those fed other legumes (gliricidia and groundnut) (Muthukumar et al., 2005). Another trial found that DM, organic matter and crude protein digestibilities were high and similar for Sesbania grandiflora et Leucaena leucocephala (Nguyen Thi Hong Nhan, 1998a).

Many authors have reported high rumen degradability of Sesbania forage compared to other legumes: 72% effective DM degradability (Suchitra et al., 2008); 62% effective DM degradability (compared to 52% for leucaena and gliricidia, Muthukumar et al., 2005); 75% DM 12 h disappearance (Ash, 1990); 73% DM 24 h disappearance (compared to 65% and 73% for DM 48 h disappearance for leucaena and gliricidia, respectively, Rao et al., 1993).

Dairy cattle

In India, milk production of cows supplemented with Sesbania (5 kg/head/d) increased by 8% (9.2 to 10.0 L/d). Milk protein remained high up to 60 days after calving, whereas the percentage of fat was unchanged (Vijayakumar et al., 2000a). For cows in early lactation receiving a diet supplemented with Sesbania grandiflora leaves (5 kg/head/day for 45 days), there were significant increases in propionate, butyrate, and rumen microbial protein production in the experimental group, which showed that the Sesbania grandiflora had no deleterious effects and had been beneficial to the ecology of the rumen (Vijayakumar et al., 2000b).

Growing cattle

In experiments in Java, cattle fed 1.8 kg/day of fresh Sesbania grandiflora leaves supplementing a rice straw diet showed growth increases comparable with those obtained with formulated diets (NAS, 1979).


Supplementation with Sesbania grandiflora dry leaf meal was able to promote economical and sustainable lamb production under a semi-intensive grazing system. The weight gain (49 g/day) was higher than with other legume leaf meals (leucaena, gliricidia) and groundnut haulms though lower than with a maize-groundnut cake concentrate. The feed cost/kg gain ratio was lower with Sesbania (Ravi et al., 2006).


In Vietnam, in a farm trial where tree foliages were given to goats as the sole diet, the highest live weight gains were obtained with Sesbania grandiflora (114 g/day) followed by Leucaena leucocephala (98 g/day), Ceiba pentandra (94 g/day) and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (77 g/day). Feed intake of fresh foliage was in the range of 2.5-2.9 kg/day. Sesbania grandiflora gave a similar result when it supplemented (50% of the diet DM) a diet based on maize husks. It was found to be the most promising of these four foliages on the basis of high voluntary DM intake, high digestibility and growth rate (Nguyen Thi Hong Nhan, 1998a; Nguyen Thi Hong Nhan, 1998b). Also in Vietnam, the intake of Sesbania grandiflora leaves fed to 3-4 month-old growing goats was higher than the intake of sweet potato vines, and weight gain was also higher (64 g/d vs. 44 g/d) (Vo Lam et al., 2004).

However, there are limitations to using Sesbania forage, and in spite of generally higher in vitro digestibilities and nutrient content than many other browse trees, the live weight gains achieved are sometimes lower than expected (Gutteridge et al., 1995). In Indonesia, supplementing goats grazing elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) with 15% Sesbania grandiflora forage (diet DM) did not modify intake, and Gliricidia, Leucaena or Sesbania grandiflora gave the same weight gain (20 g/d) (Van Eys et al., 1986). In Western Samoa, goats failed to gain weight when supplemented with S. grandiflora, although the reasons for this poor result were not identified. The authors suggest that supplementation with S. grandiflora should be limited to 30% of the diet (Ash et al., 1992).

In Vietnam, farmer experience indicates that the main constraints to the widespread use of Sesbania grandiflora for feeding goats are its relatively low yield and slow rate of regrowth after pruning (Vo Lam et al., 2004).


In extensive poultry management, fresh leaves and young shoots of Sesbania grandiflora are appreciated by poultry (Göhl, 1982). However, the inclusion of leaf meal in broiler diets depressed feed intake and performance in several studies at levels as low as 5% of the diet (Ash et al., 1992; Prasad et al., 1970). It is therefore not advisable to use Sesbania grandiflora leaf meal in poultry diets (Gutteridge et al., 1994).


Sesbania grandiflora leaves are a forage commonly used for rabbit feeding in Central Java. Sesbania grandiflora was found to be a forage of medium palatability for rabbits (Prawirodigdo, 1985; Raharjo et al., 1987). Due to the ethno-medicinal properties of dried leaves, their use as a contraceptive in the diets of breeding does needs further study (Gutteridge et al., 1994).

Nutritional tables

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 17.3 2.2 14.5 22.0 15
Crude protein % DM 25.5 2.9 18.3 29.6 18
Crude fibre % DM 16.2 4.4 5.7 22.8 16
NDF % DM 25.5 6.2 19.0 33.4 4
ADF % DM 19.5 3.3 15.8 22.2 3
Lignin % DM 5.8 1.4 4.3 6.9 3
Ether extract % DM 4.7 0.7 2.6 5.5 17
Ash % DM 8.5 0.9 7.0 10.2 19
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 19.2 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 14.1 3.6 8.3 23.3 17
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.6 0.8 2.7 6.3 17
Potassium g/kg DM 20.4 2.3 15.8 22.7 7
Sodium g/kg DM 2.4 0.6 1.8 3.1 7
Magnesium g/kg DM 3.8 2.0 5.6 2
Zinc mg/kg DM 179 1
Copper mg/kg DM 18 1
Iron mg/kg DM 881 1
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 43.2 0.0 86.4 2
Tannins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 28.6 0.0 57.1 2
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 79.2 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 75.7 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 14.5 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.5 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 74.0 74.0 74.0 2

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Barnes, 1998; CIRAD, 1991; Gowda et al., 2004; Holm, 1971; Holm, 1971; Kandiah et al., 1938; Mlay et al., 2006; Nasrullah et al., 2003; Reddy et al., 2008

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:34

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 92.0 89.0 94.9 2
Crude protein % DM 30.8 1
NDF % DM 29.4 1
ADF % DM 15.6 1
Ash % DM 8.0 1
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 10.4 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.5 1
Potassium g/kg DM 7.3 1
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.2 1
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Tannins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 40.0 1

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Kanpukdee Suchitra et al., 2008; Serra et al., 1996

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:28

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 91.4 1
Crude protein % DM 1.6 1
Crude fibre % DM 32.7 1
Ether extract % DM 4.8 1
Ash % DM 6.5 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.5 *
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 83.7 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 38.8 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 7.2 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Bhannasiri, 1970

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:34

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Boval M., Lebas F., 2016. Agati (Sesbania grandiflora). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/254 Last updated on March 16, 2016, 14:56

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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