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, sesbania, spiny sesbania [English]; sesbane, sanô, sano-khangkhok, mrindazia سيسبان ثنائي الأشواك [Arabic]; ধনস্যা (dhanasa) [Assamese]; ধইঞ্চা [Bengali]; 刺田菁 [Chinese]; لوبیای درختی خاردار [Farsi]; ढैंचा (dhaincha, danchi) [Hindi]; रान शेवरी (raan shevari) [Marathi]; செங்கிடை (cen-kitai), மலைமுருங்கை (malai-murunkai) [Tamil], ఎర్రజీలుగ (errajiluga) [Telugu]; Điển gai [Vietnamese].


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 shrub. 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 fibre, which is used in the paper industry and in water-related activities as it is said to be superior to jute fibre. It is also cultivated to make green manure (Arunin et al., 1987; Orwa et al., 2009). Prickly sesban 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). 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). Seeds mixed with flour are used in the treatment of ringworm, skin diseases, snakebites 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).

Forage management 


Prickly sesban (Sesbania bispinosa) plant was reported to yield up to 12-19 t green fodder or green manure /ha/year (Qamar et al., 2014; Prasad, 1993). It could produce 4.4 t/ha Dm and provided 843 kg CP/ha (19% CP) (Qamar et al., 2014). It is possible to make 2 harvests a year in the tropics (Ecocrop, 2010). Average seed yields range from 600 kg to 1000 kg/ha (Ecocrop, 2010).

Environmental impact 

Soil improver and soil remediation

Prickly sesban (Sesbania bispinosa) is a good soil improver: the fallen leaves, leftover stalks and roots add organic matter to the soil. The roots improve soil permeablility. It is useful for alkaline and saline soils remediation (Orwa et al., 2009; Qadir et al., 2002; NAS, 1980).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).

Shelter and cover crop

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 competes strongly with weeds and may be useful in controlling Imperata cylindrica (Duke, 1983; NAS, 1980).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 


The content of condensed tannins in the leaves was reported to be low (less than 4 g/kg DM) up to 90 days (bloom stage) and then markedly increased to almost 40 g/kg DM (Al-Masri et al., 2008). The condensed tannins content in the stems were less than 6 g/kg DM (Al-Masri et al., 2008).


Prickly sesban seeds are reported to be good source of protein. However, as other forages legume seeds, they contain a ranfge of phenols, tannins, phytic acid, saponins and trypsin inhibitors as well as high proportions of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) such as b-glucans, arabinoxylans, galactomannan or a deficiency of some sulphur-containing amino acids (Hossain et al., 2002a).

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).


Prickly sesban forage

Degradability and digestibility

In sacco DM degradability was found to be high in prickly sesban foliage (85-87%). The in vivo digestibility of prickly sesban foliage assessed in sheep was reported to be 54.5% and the N retention was 0.32 g N/g N ingested, these nutritive values were higher than those from acacia and Albizia foliages (Alam et al., 2007).
However, as for other forage shrubs, the in vitro organic matter digestibility (IVOMD) of leaves and stems was reported to decrease (from 70.5 to
66.6 %) with maturity (60 or 120 days) and with the length of cuttings while the low values of condensed tannins (about 20 g/kg DM) at 120 days did not seem to have adverse effect on IVOMD (Al-Masri, 2009).

Sheep and goats

In sheep, DM digestibility of prickly sesban (leaves and stems) in a diet based on 70% prickly sesban hay and 30% wheat bran decreased with age of cutting (50 or 80 days), from 59.5% to 50.4% (Khanum et al., 2010). The chemical composition and consequently the animal performance are related to the proportion of the leaves, stems or wigs and also to the stage of regrowth or maturity. Results must be carefully analysed according to these aspects before drawing any conclusion.

Prickly sesban forage (leaves, stems or twigs) has been mainly tested on small ruminants. The leafy upper half of the shrub was reported to be palatable to sheep (Katiyar et al., 1969). Results obtained on sheep and goats in Asian countries are summarized in table 1.

Table 1. Results obtained in small ruminants fed on prickly sesban 

Animal Breed/physiological stage Country Experiment Rate Main results Reference
GOATS Damascus does (52.2 kg) Syria Prickly sesban (leaves + stems) hay offered in a diet including lentil straw and concentrate during gestation, no control diet
300 g/animal/d; whole gestation
300 g/d/anim. No particular negative effect except a possible early embryonic mortality observed, but this is not clear Zarkawi et al., 2003
  Black Bengal male (9 kg) Bangladesh Prickly sesban (leaves + twigs) as sole feed compared to road-side grass, 56 d ad libitum DMI and DMD of S. bispinosa were higher (229 vs 179 g/d and 62% vs 55%) Shahjalal et al., 2000
  Local breed Pakistan Basal diet (wheat straw and wheat bran, amount unknown) supplemented with prickly sesban unknown higher weight gain (12.4 vs 0 g/d); and DMD of the diet higher (58.2 vs 56.4%) Nizamani et al., 2013
SHEEP Awassi ewe (62.3 kg) Syria Prickly sesban (leaves + stems) hay and barley replaces half straw and total commercial concentrate in a complete diet (28 - 29 % concentrate) for ewes fed from 2.5 months before mating until weaning   No effect on body weight change, fertility, birth weight or weaning weight of the lambs; using S. bispinosa and barley can save commercial concentrate and reduces the cost of the diet Zarkawi et al., 2005
  Cameroon whethers (19.8 kg) Bangladesh Prickly sesban (leaves + stems) included into a diet based on wheat straw, 23 d

10 or 20 %

Straw dry matter intake increased with 10 or 20 % from 42.5 g/kg BW-75 to 58 g/kg BW-75; OMD of the diet increased from 40.5% to 46-47.8 %; Only the 20 % level allowed 139 g/d weight gain compared to -84 and -23 g/d for 0 or 10% Khandaker et al., 1998

Prickly sesban leaves and young stems are a good protein source to supplement low nutritive forages, and the low condensed tannin content has no adverse effect on digestibility. As other legume trees, prickly sesban forage will then increase both intake and digestibility of the diet. However, depending on the proportion of leaves and stems fed to the animals, the effects can be variable.

Dairy cattle

In India, low producing Desi dairy cattle could be fed on a mixture of prickly sesban and leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala) foliages as a protein source to supplement urea-treated-straw and it was shown that the animals had higher body weight gain and reproduction parameter than the control. There was no difference in milk yield (Alam et al., 2009).


Prickly sesban seed have been reported to have higher CP content than conventional grain legumes like chickpeas (Cicer arietinum), mung bean (Vigna radiata) or cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). Prickly sesban seeds have relatively high in vitro OM digestibility (72.3%) that is slightly lower than that of soybean seeds or faba seeds; prickly sesban seeds rumen degradability at 58.0 % is also lower than that of soybean seeds but higher that that of faba beans (Hossain et al., 2002a). Treatments like roasting, soaking, autoclaving had variable effects on antinutrionnal factors and on subsequent digestibility enhancement (Hossain et al., 2002a).

Soaked and ground seeds of prickly sesban (32.5% CP) could be included at 850g/day as a protein source in a berseem hay ad libitum based diet of 13 month-old Haryana calves (150 kg BW) during 135 days. Calves consumed up to 2.88kg DM/100 kg BW and they had 366 g daily weight gain with this ration (Nath et al., 1991; Nath et al., 1990).



No information could be found about the use of prickly sesban in pig feeding (as of 2020).


Seeds of prickly sesban (Sesbania bispinosa) can be used in poultry diets in limited amounts. While early reports from South Africa stated that prickly sesban seeds were valued by farmers as poultry feed (Anon., 1919), later studies showed depressed growth and hepatic damage in broilers fed with 10% prickly sesban seeds, despite autoclave thermal treatment (Das et al., 1993). In the same study, no significant damage was observed at the level of 5%. In chicken fed diets with 20% prickly sesban seeds, raw or autoclaved, autoclaving resulted in better performance than for raw seeds, but still far below than the control diet (Katoch et al., 1974). Similarly, boiled seeds of prickly sesban could be used in chicken feeding to replace up to 50% fish meal (Gheyasuddin et al., 1988)



Up to now (June 2020) no information seems available in the international literature on the use of prickly sesban (Sesbania bispinosa) as forage for rabbits. However this annual legume shrub is used in some countries as fodder for sheep, goats or cattle and leaves are also used in poultry feed (Khan et al., 2019; Gohel et al., 2015; Anita et al., 2009). Used as only feed, leaves can support a moderate growth in castrated male goats (Shahjalal et al., 2000). For all these reasons, green or dried Sesbania bisbinosa must be considered as a potential safe forage also for rabbits. But before any utilization in rabbit feeding, direct experiments are strongly recommended. Nutritive value of prickly sesban forage tested in sheep was high: 20.6% digestible proteins in DM and energy digestibility of about 68% (Katiyar et al., 1969). The value for rabbits is probably close to that for sheep (Lebas, 2016).


As for prickly sesban whole plant, no information on the use of prickly sesban seeds in rabbit feeding seems available in the international literature (June 2020). However, these seeds are known to be normally consumed, after cooking, by different populations in India (Pugalenthi et al., 2004). Similarly, boiled seeds can be used in chicken feeding to replace up to 50% of fish meal (Gheyasuddin et al., 1988) and raw seeds can be used in fish (carps) feeding up to 12% of the diets (Bhat et al., 2009). The seeds are very rich in proteins (30-32% of DM) but just covers the rabbit’s lysine requirement and are deficient in sulphur amino acids : about 50% of requirements ( Lebas, 2004; Pugalenthi et al., 2004; Siddhuraju et al., 1995). In addition, the level of anti-nutritionnal factors classically present in legumes seeds are at low level in Sesbania bispinosa seeds (Pugalenthi et al., 2004). For these various reasons, prickly sesban seeds could be considered as a potential source of proteins, and probably of digestible energy for rabbit feeding, but some preliminary studies with rabbits are advised before extensive utilisation.


It has been possible to include prickly sesban seed meal in fish diet, as a source of protein that could replace more expensive protein sources.

In common carp (Cyprinus carpio), untreated prickly sesban meal seed was included at increasing dietary levels, from 12% to 48%. Levels higher than 12% resulted in lower growth performance, degraded feed conversion ratio and other efficiency ratios (protein and energy). It was thus suggested to limit prickly sesban seed meal to 12% dietary level in order to maintain growth performance and nutrient utilisation in common carp (Bhat et al., 2009; Hossain et al., 2001).

In Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), prickly sesban 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., 2002b).



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

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DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/255 Last updated on June 16, 2020, 16:58