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Sesbania is rapidly forming dense stands along rivers & creeks in the Sacramento region. Sesbania clusters are often so thick that access to the river is impossible..
Sesbania is displacing native plants that provide essential food and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife species.

Sesbania contains saponin, a chemical that is poisonous to both humans and wildlife.

Along shallower streams, clusters of Sesbania are spreading into the waterways. These tall obstacles can contribute to bank erosion and increase the chance of flooding.
Expert ecologists believe that Sesbania is a major threat to the biodiversity of native plants in riparian habitats (the sensitive areas immediately along the edge of waterways), throughout the Sacramento region.
Red Sesbania reproduces by seed. The seedlings which take root and grow rapidly are often able to flower and produce seed in the first year. The seed pods float and can travel downstream in rivers and creeks enhancing the plants ability to take over new territory.
Unfortunately, this exotic is still sold as a landscape plant by those who are either unaware of the threat it poses or simply don’t care. Please don’t buy or plant it.

Ailanthus seeds

Volunteers bag the seeds of sesbania punicea along a creek in Contra Costa County.

Ailanthus seeds

Red sesbania was introduced as an ornamental but has escaped into riparian areas and ditches. Its foliage, twigs and fruits are toxic to

Physical control techniques for S. punicea include the hand pulling of first-year plants and using a weed-wrench for larger individuals (Hunter & Platenkamp, 2003). The effectiveness of physical methods is increased as S. punicea does not produce root sprouts when the shoot is damaged (Hunter & Platenkamp, 2003).

The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency [SAFCA] produced a long term management and maintenance plan for the Dry Creek Watershed in 2007 which describes physical and chemical control options in more detail. The preferred method detailed in this plan is to hand pull small seedlings up to 3 inches in diameter including the roots, and disposing pulled plants in an upland location outside the floodplain (SAFCA, 2007). For the Dry Creek Watershed, this treatment was best applicable for individuals and sparse infestations located over most of the upper watershed (SFACA, 2007). While up to 3 inches in diameter may indicate a large individual, S. punicea is not known to form deep root systems, making pulling relatively easy (Rice, 1998). Alternatively, hand or power tools can be used to first cut down the plant, and then the roots can be dug up later (Buck et al., undated).

For heavier infestations located in the lower watershed areas there is likely to be a more developed seed bank (SAFCA, 2007). As such, the SAFCA management plan (2007) state that seedling flushes are expected to be moderate during the first few years of the maintenance program, recommending use of cut and paint techniques and herbicide use.

More information

Battle Creek
Watershed Conservancy
P.O. Box 606, Manton, CA 96059


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Created October 23, 2011