Bokphul or Vegetable hummingbird, Sesbania grandiflora

Bokphul or Vegetable hummingbird (Sesbania grandiflora, family: Fabaceae) is a small soft-wooded tree with spreading branches, attaining a height of 10 m. Trunk is straight and tall, brownish and smooth. It is found in Madhupur forest of the country. The deciduous tree is grown in homestead and in parks and gardens for its outstanding eye-catching flowers. The tree itself  is a beautiful one.

Leaves are paripinnate, 10-25 pairs of leaflets perpinnae. Leaflets are small, linear, light green, 2-4 cm long. Inflorescence is short axillary raceme.

Flowers are red, white or light pink, ending portion is curved, like Heron's beak. It blooms profusely from September to November but found almost throughout the year in limited range.

Fruit is linear pod with 30 seeds; almost a metre long, dehiscent. The plant is propagated by seeds.

The whole plant is used as medicine. Bark is used as tonic and to prevent chicken pox. Root is used in rheumatism and gonorrhoea. Leaves can be consumed as vegetables. Flowers are edible. 

The fast growing tree survives for 20 years. It is found in South and Southeast Asia. But Malaysia is considered as the original home of the plant.


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