Sesbania punicea

Spanish gold, rattlebox, purple sesban

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 2 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: South America

Widely used as an ornamental plant for its attractive compound leaves, bright red flowers and persistent winged fruit but has escaped cultivation. It favors moist, wet environments and is often found along riverbanks and wetlands. Sesbania. All parts of Sesbania are poisonous, particularly the seeds.

Species Characteristics

Family: Fabaceae

Habit: woody shrub that can grow up to 15 feet in height. The bark is covered with lenticels and is gray to reddish brown in color.

Leaves: alternate, compound, 5 to 7 inches long. There are 7 to 16 pairs of small, oppositely arranged, elliptical 1 inch long leaflets.

Flowers: ½ to 1 inch long, are orange-red in color, and hang in clusters.

Seeds: seed pods are 3 to 4 inches long and dark brown with longitudinal wings. There are 3 to 9 seeds per pod and make a rattling sound when shaken.

Distribution in Florida: throughout, less frequent in South Florida.


Displaces native vegetation and wildlife by forming dense thickets. The greatest environmental impacts are near water bodies and along river and stream banks. This can decrease water flow and quality, and reduce recreation for boaters, fishers, and other activities. It can fully mature in one year and produces thousands of highly viable seeds that can remain dormant for several years in the soil.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Do not plant.


Pull young plants by hand or with a weed wrench. Removal should occur before seeds are produced or care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process.


Mowing will help but is often not feasible due to wet soil conditions where this species prefers. Mechanical control prior to seed set will be helpful in controlling future infestations, but this must be practiced over a several year period as dormant seeds will continue to germinate.


None known.


More research needed, Consult your local UF IFAS Extension for further assistance with management recommendations.

Learn more about this species

UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas

Atlas of Florida Plants


USDA Plant Database

Invasive Species Compendium

View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium