Animal feed resources information system

Prickly sesban (Sesbania bispinosa)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Prickly sesban, canicha, danchi, dhaincha, sesbane, sanô, sano-khangkhok, mrindazia (Orwa et al., 2009)


Sesbania aculeata (Willd.) Poir., Aeschynomene aculeata Shreber, Aeschynomene bispinosa Jacq., Sesbania bispinosa (Jacq.) Steud., Sesbania cannabina (Retz.) Pers. (Orwa et al., 2009)


Prickly sesban (Sesbania bispinosa (Jacq.) W. F. Wight) is a fast growing annual legume. It reaches 2-7 m high. It is well branched and stems are fairly thick. Leaves are pinnately compound with 18-55 pairs oblong leaflets. Leaflets are 1.2-2.5 cm long and 0.3 cm wide. Inflorescences are racemes bearing 1-12 yellow and purple spotted flowers. Flowers are self-fertile, pods are curved, 25-48 seeded. Seeds and bark produce high protein content gum (Ecocrop, 2010; Orwa et al., 2009; Duke, 1983).

Prickly sesban is a multi-purpose shrub. Its stems provide a strong durable fiber, which is used in the paper industry and in water-related activities as it said to be superior to jute fibre. It is grown as a green manure (Arunin et al., 1987; Orwa et al., 2009).

Its leaves are used as fodder for sheep, goats and cattle. They are also used as poultry feed in South Africa (Pugalenthi et al., 2004). Leaves can make silage (Orwa et al., 2009) and it is possible to feed cattle with prickly sesban seed meal (Orwa et al., 2009). Prickly sesban yields up to 12 t fodder or green manure /ha/year (Prasad, 1993). It is possible to make 2 harvests a year in the tropics (Ecocrop, 2010).

The mature seeds are cooked and eaten by the Indian tribals, Katkharis and Ghonds (Siddhuraju et al., 1995). However nutritional information about prickly sesban as human food is still poor (Pugalenthi et al., 2004). Average seed yields range from 600 kg to 1000 kg/ha (Ecocrop, 2010).

Seeds mixed with flour are used in the treatment of ringworm, skin diseases and wounds (Orwa et al., 2009). Recent research reported it to contain high amounts of pinitol, an antidiabetic substance (Misra et al., 2004).


The origins of prickly sesban are still debated and it may have originated from the Indian subcontinent (Ecocrop, 2010). It is now widespread within Central America, Virgin Islands, Vietnam, China, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Uganda (Orwa et al., 2009). It is common in low countries, especially in dry regions.

Prickly sesban grows well in wet areas and is tolerant of flooding: it often occurs as a weed in rice fields (Arunin et al., 1987), marshes and mangroves (Anita et al., 2009). Optimal growth conditions are 550-2100 mm annual rainfall (Duke, 1983), 19.9°C-27°C daily temperatures, soil pH ranging from 5.8 to 7.5 and sometimes up to 10 (Orwa et al., 2009), at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1200 m. Prickly sesban is tolerant of drought, salinity (Orwa et al, 2009; Arunin et al., 1987) and high day temperatures (36-44°C) (Prasad, 1993).

Environmental impact 

Prickly sesban is a N-fixing legume and is often used as green manure in rice fields (Arunin et al., 1987) where it yields up to 12t/ha. Ploughing in prickly sesban foliage 60-70 days after planting and just before rice being planted out improves rice yield as much as an application of 80kg - 150kg N/ha (Orwa et al., 2009; Arunin et al., 1987).

Prickly sesban is also used to provide windbreaks, hedges, erosion control, and shade and cover for crops. It is grown in alley-farming systems (Orwa et al., 2009). It is a good soil improver: the fallen leaves, leftover stalks and roots add organic matter to the soil. Roots improve soil permeablility. It is useful for alkaline and saline soils remediation (Orwa et al, 2009; Qadir et al., 2002; NAS, 1980).

It competes strongly with weeds and may be useful in controlling Imperata cylindrica (Duke, 1981; NAS, 1980).

Nutritional aspects
Potential constraints 

Prickly sesban does not contain HCN (Anon., 1919). It contains canavanine, a non-protein amino-acid that is an antinutritional factor for livestock (Bell et al., 1978).


Seeds of Sesbania bispinosa can be used in poultry diets but only cautiously and in limited amounts. While early reports from South Africa stated that Sesbania bispinosa seeds were valued by farmers as poultry feed (Anon., 1919), later studies showed depressed growth and hepatic damage in broilers fed with 10% Sesbania bispinosa, despite autoclave thermal treatment (Das et al., 1993). In the same study no significant damage was observed at the level of 5%. In chicks fed diets with 20% Sesbania bispinosa raw or autoclaved seeds, autoclaving resulted in better performance than for raw seeds, but still far below than with the control diet (Katoch et al., 1974).


In Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), Sesbania bispinosa seed meal replacing fish meal resulted in lower growth performance, possibly due to the presence of tannins, saponins and non-starch polysaccharides It was possible to include up to 9.7% untreated Sesbania seed meal (10% of the dietary protein) without affecting growth performance and nutrient utilization (Hossain et al., 2002).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 90.4 1
Crude protein % DM 34.6 32.7 36.4 2
Crude fibre % DM 11.4 10.7 12.1 2
Ether extract % DM 4.9 2.9 6.9 2
Ash % DM 3.3 1.5 5.0 2
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 20.4 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 3.7 1
Phosphorus g/kg DM 5.9 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 90.4 *
Pig nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Energy digestibility, growing pig % 72.2 *
DE growing pig MJ/kg DM 14.7 *

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


Anon., 1919; Sen, 1938

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:02

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/255 Last updated on March 2, 2011, 22:42

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