Hummingbird tree: Origin, Distribution, Classification, Characteristics, Phytochemical Constituents, and Uses

Hummingbird tree: Origin, Distribution, Classification, Characteristics, Phytochemical Constituents, and Uses


Agati, also known as Sesbania grandiflora, is a type of West Indian pea and a member of the Fabaceae family. It can be found in several Asian nations, including India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. A classic south Indian dish called Agathi keerai is made with Sesbania grandiflora flower. Sesbania grandiflora is used as a traditional medicine alone or in combination with other medicinal plants to treat a variety of illnesses and infections such as swellings, headaches, anaemia, bronchitis, liver disorders, pains, and tumours, among others. The leaves of this plant are used as an antidote for tobacco-related issues as well as to cure anaemia, itching, fever, respiratory diseases, diuretic, purgative, and anthelmintic symptoms. Tribals have long used flowers to treat a range of illnesses, including headaches, cataracts, and insomnia.

Sesbania grandiflora, often known as a vegetable hummingbird, is a small, erect-branched tree that belongs to the Fabaceae family and is an evergreen or deciduous perennial legume. It is a rapidly growing, short-lived, firewood tree with few branches. Due to these species’ high nitrogen fixation capacities, Sesbania is used as green manure, intercropping, and ground cover in agroforestry and wood production systems, which promotes rapid development even in soils with low nitrogen levels. Studies have shown that S. grandiflora leaves are very nutrient-dense and include considerable amounts of proteins, fats, carbs, fibre, and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Young leaves can be eaten and are frequently added to meals. In addition to essential amino acids, minerals, and vitamins (retinol, tocopherol, ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, and nicotinic acid), leaves also contain pectin, triterpenoids, tannin, glycosides, grandiflorol, and saponins. Flavonoids include catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and luteolin.

Origin and Distribution

Sesbania is a genus that contains over 60 different species, most of which are native to Australia, Africa, and Asia. West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the North-Eastern states of India are where Sesbania grandiflora originated.


Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fabales

Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Sesbania

Species : Sesbania grandiflora

Common Names: Hummingbird tree, Swamp Pea, Agate, Agati,


1. India as a whole cultivates the Sesbania grandiflora plant for its tasty blossoms. Its common names include Hummingbird Tree and Butterfly Tree.

2. It is a small decorative tree with a straight stem that bears white blossoms shaped like tiny birds. Flowers, leaves, gums, and bark all have therapeutic properties.

3. It is a short-lived, soft-wooded tree with loose branches and a very open crown.

4. A tree with branches is called Sesbania grandiflora. It has a height of between 10 and 15 m and a diameter of up to 12 cm.

5. The leaves are 15 to 30 cm long and have a dark green colour. The leaves are opposite one another and range in shape from oblong to oval.

6. Its leaves are pinnately compound and can grow up to 30 cm long. They have 20 to 50 leaflets in pairs and measure 12.4 x 5.15 mm.

7. The bark is severely furrowed, corky, and light grey in colour. Sesbania grandiflora has wood that is both soft and white in colour.

8. Large, white, yellowish, rose-pink, or red flowers with a 15.22 mm long calyx were present. The standard can be up to 10.5 x 6 cm in size. The blooms hang in a group at the base of the stems.

9. The blossoms range in colour from deep pink to scarlet. The flowers are oblong in shape and range in length from 7-9 cm. The taste of the blossoms is harsh, astringent, and caustic.

10. The seeds have an oblong form and are either brown or dark green in colour. The pale yellow pods have a sub-cylindrical or slightly curved shape. Pods range in size from 20 to 60 cm, are 5-8 mm in diameter, and hold 15 to 50 seeds. The pods are a reddish-brown colour.

11. It does not grow well in the subtropics, especially in locations with temperatures below roughly 100C, as it is well adapted to hot, humid surroundings. When flooded, they form floating adventitious roots and cover their stems, roots, and nodules with spongy, arerenchyma tissue.

12. S. gradiflora is adapted to rainfall conditions of 2,000–4,000 mm but will grow in areas receiving only 800 mm. It is exceptional in its ability to tolerate waterlogging and is ideal for seasonal waterlogged or flooded environments.

13. Its tolerance of both salty and alkaline soil conditions is its standout quality. The trees are spaced 1.5 to 2 meters apart on the walls of rice paddies, and fodder is collected in this way for 3 to 4 years, producing up to 2 kg of dry matter each harvest per tee.

Phytochemical Constituents

Sesbania grandiflora’s main phytochemical components include alkaloids, sugars, flavonoids, glycosides, saponins, tannins, steroids, anthraquinone, proteins, and terpenoids.


A source of one of the therapeutic goods, Sesbania grandiflora is a versatile tree with edible blossoms. Because of its antibacterial, anthelmintic, and anti-tumor capabilities, S. grandiflora is utilized as a herbal medication (Neethu S. Kumar and Dhanyaraj F.S., 2016). Flavonoids and other phenolic chemicals are just a few of the many natural antioxidants that are abundant in edible flowers (Youwei Z., 2008). Flowers are almost calorie-free, a good source of antioxidants, and some edible flowers have anti-inflammatory properties. The liver, bladder, prostate, breast, and colon tumours were all effectively repelled by edible flowers (Gupta Y. C. 2018). According to epidemiological research, eating a diet high in antioxidants can help avoid chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological diseases (Willcox, J., 2004).

1. Sesbania grandiflora leaves may be used to treat thrombosis, diarrhoea, inflammatory conditions, as well as a few major bacterial illnesses.

2. According to some reports, S. grandiflora leaf juice can be used to treat bronchitis, cough, vomiting, wound ulcers, diarrhoea, and dysentery.

3. The flowers’ antibacterial action has been discovered. This plant’s powdered roots are combined with water and used as a massage or poultice on the skin to treat rheumatic swelling.

4. The leaves are typically used to treat cephalagia, nyctalopia, and nasal catarrah. Understudies, S. grandiflora has antioxidant, antiuroithiatic, anticonvulsive, anti-ligament, anti-inflammatory, anti-helminthic, antibacterial, and anxiolytic properties.

5. The preventive effects of the bark concentrate against severe and ongoing irritation have been proven. S. grandiflora’s bark is quite unpleasant and regarded as an astringent, harsh tonic.

6. The bark of S. grandiflora is used as an astringent and treatment for scabies, baby stomach problems, mouth ulcers, and chicken pox.

7. Some nations make tea from the dried leaves of S. grandiflora which is thought to have antibacterial, anthelmintic, anti-tumor, and contraceptive effects.

8. Similar to bamboo, wood is utilized for construction in Asian nations. The tree is raised for reforestation and as an ornamental shade tree.

9. The herb is utilized in conditions such as epilepsy, smallpox, eruptive fever, colic disease, jaundice, and poisoning (Suresh Kashyap and Sanjay Mishra, 2012).

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