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Rattlebox  Sesbania punicea    Legume Family (Fabaceae)
Rattlebox photo courtesy of Joe Molter
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Description: A small tree with a spreading open crown reaching 6 to 8 feet in height. It often forms dense thickets. Its grayish brown to reddish brown bark, with numerous horizontal lenticels. Slender twigs are green for an extended period but eventually harden off and turn reddish brown, with no obvious buds. Alternate leaves are compound, 5 to 7 inches long, 7 to 16 pairs of small, elliptical leaflets (each 1 inch long), dark green above and paler below. Very attractive orange-red pea-like flowers hang in clusters. The dark brown legume fruit ends in a sharp point and are 3 to 4 inches long, with 4 conspicuous longitudinal wings, appearing in late spring and early summer and ripen by fall. Mature sesbania plants produce hundreds of fruit pods.

Habitat: This plant is especially troublesome along rivers and streams. It may invade moist areas where there are long, hot summers. It can survive a hard freeze, but probably not ones more than a few days. Sesbania is replacing native plants in the riparian areas that provide essential food and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife species. It also contains a chemical that is poisonous to both humans and wildlife.

Distribution: Rivers, creeks and wetland areas within the Sacramento River drainage within Shasta County and Counties down-river of Shasta Dam.

Flowering Period: and appear in late spring and early summer


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