Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Green Roof Plant, Sesbania herbacea, Danglepod

Danglepod is a great native green roof plant for many reasons, including habitat, forage, food for Lepidoptera, nectar provider, nitrogen fixer, shade producer, wind break plant, native species and so much more.
Sesbania herbacea, Danglepod flowers ont he Green Roof
Sure to catch anyone's attention Danglepod is also known by its scientific name Sesbania herbacea.  Danglepod grows wild across Florida and many of you may remember seeing broad patches alongside road and highways blooming during the summer.
Sesbania herbacea growing on the Breaking Ground Contracting Green Roof
I like Danglepod as a green roof plant for a number of reasons, including all of those listed above.  Very resilient to wind Danglepod makes a great permaculture type windbreak and provides shade, so though welcome anywhere on the green roof I especially like to see the plant grow around the perimeter.

Danglepod is a summer annual, however the hot tropical desiccating winds are what I most like to protect against.

Moreover, Danglepod is a fertilizer plant for green roofs.  A member of the Fabaceae family, Danglepod fixes nitrogen into the soil and has been listed in many permaculture and biodiversity online databases, including international sites such as EcoCrop.  The USDA NRCS plant website refers to Danglepod as being native across the southern US.
Danglepod's Seeds
Research is presently being conducted across the world on the economic and ecological potential of the plant, including fiber utilization and biofuel production.  The Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants has several great photos of Danglepod along with considerable botanical data.

Danglepod and other Sesbania are used by numerous Lepidoptera for food sources.  The Orange Sulfur,  Gray Hairstreak, Zarucco Duskywing and others use the plant as larval food.

The plant reseeds itself prolifically and is considered a 'weed' by many.  In fact, many herbicide companies and 'weed' organizations recommend applying chemicals to this plant to kill it (along with the butterflies and pollinators using the species).

Being a native weed I consider Danglepod a wildflower with benefits and the plant is welcome on all green roofs I work on.  If too many appear it is easy to pull a few up.

As to the free nitrogen, shade, wind protection and wildlife habitat, Danglepod packs a powerful and beneficial punch!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just had this plant identified at an Herb Walk in Oglethorpe Co. Ga. It wasn't suppose to grow here but just appeared this year where I had planted some Cayenne pepper. Thanks for your article. Debbie