S. aculeata auct., non Poir., Aeschynomene cannabina Retzius;
S. australia F. Mueller; S. serica DC. var. glabra Domin.; S. serica DC.
var. subsingulifolia Domin.
An erect, annual legume, subshrub, to about 3.5 m high, stems
with spreading hairs when young, more or less glabrous later, terete or
slightly angular. Leaves with 12 to 30 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets narrowly-oblong,
apex obtuse or truncate-apiculate, 7 to 8 x 1.5 to 3 mm glabrous or with
a few appressed hairs. Inflorescence a raceme of one to three (five) flowers.
Pedicels more or less equal to the calyx. Calyx 3 to 4 mm long, the lobes
up to about half as long as the tube. Corolla yellow. Standard conspicuously
streaked on the back, 0.8 to 1.1 cm long. Pods slender, 12 to 20 x 0.25
to 0.3 cm, with a slender terminal point. Seeds dark brown, about 4 mm
long (Stanley and Ross, 1983; Bailey, 1900).
Long confused with the Indian species S. aculeata, S. cannabina
is essentially an Australian species, although it does occur northwards
into Malaysia. In Australia, it is particularly common in subcoastal and
adjacent areas of the northern states, but extends inland in some areas,
especially Queensland, where it is widespread. It extends into South Australia
along the Diamantina River, and into New South Wales along the Darling
River. It is the most widespread of the Sesbania spp. and commonly grows
in areas subject to inundation, where it is able to withstand waterlogged
conditions. It can, at times, be a weed of irrigated rice fields and of
low-lying wet cultivation paddocks (Burbidge, 1965).
It nodulates readily and heavily but is strain specific, although
there are affinities with the garden bean, lupin and cowpea cross-inoculation
groups (Bowen, 1956}. Its palatability is low to moderate at best, as it
rapidly becomes fibrous and hard. Usually only hungry stock will eat it.
There are no known toxicities.
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