Virginia Tech Dendrology

rattlebox Fabaceae Sesbania punicea (Cav.) Benth. Listen to the Latin symbol: SEPU7
Leaf: Alternate, compound, 5 to 7 inches long, 7 to 16 pairs of small, elliptical leaflets (each 1 inch long), dark green above, paler below.
Flower: Very attractive orange-red pea-like flowers in hanging clusters appearing in late spring and early summer.
Fruit: Dark brown legume ending in a sharp point, 3 to 4 inches long with 4 conspicuous longitudinal wings, appear in early summer and ripen by fall.
Twig: Slender, green for an extended period but eventually hardening off and turning dark reddish brown, no obvious buds.
Bark: Grayish brown to reddish brown, numerous horizontal lenticels.
Form: A small tree with a spreading open crown reaching 6 to 8 feet in height. It often forms dense thickets.
Looks like: mimosa - desert false indigo
leaf flower fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Sesbania punicea is planted in the USDA hardiness zones shown above and may seed into the landscape. See states reporting rattlebox.
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson