Marsh Rattlebox - Poison Bean - Rattle Bush
Rattle Bean
Sesbania drummondii (Rydberg) Cory
Fabaceae (Bean) Family

The rattlebush is a rank-growing, woody plant 2 to 10 feet tall. It has many branches in the upper part, well separated, with few leaves, giving it a rather spare appearance. The bark is smooth, green to light brown. Its preferred habitat is wet places as the name suggest; moist soils of ditches and frequently-inundated meadows, as well as depressions and the open edges of lakes, ponds and streams.

Leaves are alternate, 4 to 8 inches long on a short stem. They are divided into 20 to 50 leaflets, 1/2–l 1/2 inches long and about 1/4 inch wide with no terminal leaflet.

Flowers are about 1/2 inch long, yellow, often streaked with red and hang in clusters about 2 inches long, on a threadlike stem about the same length. Each flower has 5 petals, the top petal being longer than the others and standing erect. Flowers occur in the summer.

Fruit is a pod. When mature they are loose in the pod and rattle when shaken, suggesting the name rattlebush.

Of Interest: The species name is for Thomas Drummond, (ca. 1790-1835), naturalist, born in Scotland, around 1790.

In 1830 he made a trip to America to collect specimens from the western and southern United States. In March, 1833, he arrived at Velasco, Texas to begin his collecting work in that area. He spent some 20 months working the area between Galveston Island and the Edwards Plateau, especially along the Brazos, Colorado, and Guadalupe rivers. His collections were the first made in Texas that were extensively distributed among the museums and scientific institutions of the world.


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