Agathi  (Sesbauia grandiflora)

Company School1770/1810

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
Exeter, United Kingdom

The flower buds and young seedpods and leaves of agathi (Sesbania grandiflora) can be eaten as a vegetable, and are commonly used in Thai cuisine. It is wild in tropical eastern Asia, but has been long cultivated in the warmer parts of India. The tree also has numerous medicinal properties: for example, the leaves can be chewed as a mild laxative, and to clean the mouth; the flowers are said to be good for headache, and the fruits which are bitter and acrid can be used as a laxative. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the Company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations. Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practised in India for 3,000 years.


  • Title: Agathi  (Sesbauia grandiflora)
  • Date: 1770/1810
  • Physical Dimensions: w390 x h555 mm
  • Provenance: Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter City Council.
  • Type: Drawing
  • Medium: Watercolour
  • Artist: Company School

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