Because of its close resemblance to another Sesbania known to have originated in Indonesia, it is thought that S. grandiflora was first grown there as well. It is now found throughout the tropics and subtropics where it can provide crude protein (8.4 g/100 g) for ruminants during dry seasons.
This species of Sesbania is a tree that grows rapidly achieving 8-10 m in height in 3-4 years, but is short-lived and shallow-rooted. The leaves and pods can be a quick source of fodder and light shade for plants that cannot tolerate strong tropical sun. It can serve as a windbreak and will enrich the soil with nitrogen. Before the stems become large and woody, it can be used as a green manure crop that is either plowed into the soil or cut and left in place as mulch. The wood is too light to be a good fuel though it is raised for this purpose as well as for cork, construction and pulp for papermaking. There are a great variety of medicinal uses for the bark, gum, leaves and flowers.
Grandiflora grows best at elevations up to 1,000 m (3280 ft) in the warm, frost-free tropics. It requires only 4.8-22.5 dm (19-86 in) of annual precipitation but will make its greatest growth in the wet season. Seed directly sown into a field or bare-rooted transplants are common methods of propagation. S. grandiflora is tolerant of soil salinity, water logging and will survive in heavy-clay soils.
Harvesting and Seed Production
With conservative harvesting of leaves, the tree will regrow, but not if pruned heavily. This tree produces so many pods that it can be a nuisance. Seeds, when dried out of the sun in an area of good air movement, can be successfully stored for one year only. They do not require scarifying before sowing.
Pests and Diseases
Nematodes, grasshoppers, blight, flies and weevils as well as pod-boring insects can destroy crops of S. grandiflora but removal and burning of stumps may be a control method. The leaves of the S. grandiflora are toxic to chickens and other animals with a single stomach. In large quantity the pods may be toxic to all living things.
Cooking and Nutrition
The unopened flowers, young, green pods and leaves can be eaten as steamed vegetables or added to curries and sauces. They are low in fat, but a good source of calcium, iron and phosphorus. The white flowering variety produces an abundance of flowers used in Philippine and southern Asia dishes.
Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. 2009 Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0 (http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Sesbania_grandiflora.PDF )