Sesbania punicea
Photo by Flickr user Domaine

scarlet wisteria (Sesbania punicea)

This plant is invasive in the following regions:

  • CVCentral Valley
  • NCNorth and Central Coast
Map of regions (click to enlarge)
map of California regions


Scarlet wisteria is a deciduous shrub or small tree with bright orange-red flowers from June – September.

How does scarlet wisteria spread?

These small trees have spread rapidly, covering over 100 linear miles along Dry Creek in the Sacramento area in just six years. The prolific seeds of the plant are able to float downstream and start new colonies within months of their own establishment. Each plant can produce up to 1,000 seed pods/year – that’s about 500 seeds per square meter.

Where is scarlet wisteria found?

Scarlet wisteria is mostly found along rivers, channels, and in other wet places like marshes and the margins of ponds, ditches, and canals. The plants have invaded willow scrub, stream banks, sand and gravel bars, and in-stream islands.

What problems does scarlet wisteria cause?

Scarlet wisteria creates dense thickets, usually along riverbanks, where other plants are excluded from the understory. It can form dense thickets with 100% cover over areas of up to several thousand square meters. The plant has some shade tolerance and seedlings can regenerate in its own shade, giving it the potential to maintain dominance at a site through recurrent recruitment. All parts of the plant are poisonous to birds, reptiles, and mammals, and it displaces plants used by native wildlife and blocks their access to water.

Additional photos of scarlet wisteria (Sesbania punicea)