Agati (Sesbania grandiflora): A Versatile Tropical Gem

Agati, scientifically known as Sesbania grandiflora, is a tropical legume tree cherished for its rapid growth and diverse uses. In this OrganicMotion article, we’ll delve into the botanical details, growing information, and the multitude of applications that make Agati a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes.

Botanical Overview

  • Botanical Name: Sesbania grandiflora syn. Agati grandiflora syn. Aeschynomene grandiflora
  • Common Names: Agati, West Indian pea tree, gallito, agusta, bagphal, bak, pwa valye, agathi, and many more
  • Plant Family: Fabaceae
  • Origin: Malaysia and India

Plant Description

Agati presents as a small, upright tropical legume tree with a rapid growth rate, reaching up to 10 meters in height and featuring a straight cylindrical trunk. Notable for its large pea flowers ranging from white to pink and red, Agati thrives in both wet and dry tropical regions. The finely pinnate leaves and long, narrow seedpods add to its ornamental charm. This adaptable tree can withstand various soil types, pH ranges, and salinity, favoring warm and humid climates while being sensitive to frost.

Planting Details

When to Sow: Choose warm weather for sowing, requiring a soil temperature of at least 25°C. In subtropical areas, sow from November to December, while in tropical regions, sow from October to January.

Seed Preparation: Direct sow or use seedling trays with a free-draining mix. Beware of over-watering during the seedling stage to prevent damping-off.

Spacing: Plant out at 1.5 – 2 m spacings.

Propagation: Agati can be propagated by cuttings or seedlings. It’s susceptible to nematodes, and young plants should be protected from grazing animals.


  1. Intercrop: Agati serves as a shade or nurse tree, especially beneficial for black pepper. Its ability to nodulate freely is believed to contribute to soil fertility.
  2. Animal Forage: The green leaves and pods are excellent fodder for cattle and goats.
  3. Food: Various parts of Agati, including young leaves, flowers, and tender pods, are popular in Asian cuisines. Rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins, they are used in stews, soups, curries, and as greens.
  4. Ornamental Plantings: Agati adds ornamental value to gardens with its attractive flowers and foliage.
  5. Other Uses: Agati finds applications in living fences, windbreaks, gum and tannin production, as well as pulp and paper production.

Stands as a tropical gem

Agati, with its rapid growth, adaptability, and diverse uses, stands as a tropical gem for both practical and aesthetic purposes. Whether you’re a gardener seeking ornamental beauty or someone interested in sustainable agriculture, Agati deserves a place in your tropical landscape. Experiment with its culinary uses, harness its role in agroforestry, and witness the many facets of this versatile and valuable tree.