Tephrosia vogelii

Fish bean is native to West Africa, where it is used as a fish poison and an insecticide, giving it its name. This pretty shrub is a  nitrogen fixer that grows quickly and is easy to establish. It’s a valuble insecticide that can be used to control pests in the garden, on pets & livestock, in the home, and in stored grains.

Fish bean has delicate, white flowers that are appreciated by pollinators & hummingbirds. Plant it on the edge of hills or terraces to help control errosion and produce green manure. Termites will not eat the leaves, so can be very useful as a mulch where they are present. The leaves can also be harvested for making an insecticidal extract.

Do not use as animal fodder or throw into fish ponds.

Growing tips: Soak seeds for 24 hours to improve germination. Plant 60-90 cm apart. Will grow 1.8 to 3m tall. Prefers moist soil, but can tolerate drought once established.


20 seeds per packet 

The following is an excerpt from the ECHO website further detailing specific uses for fish bean:

To control insects in stored grain: take fresh leaves and dry them under the sun. Grind the dried leaves into a powder. Mix 100 gm (3.5 oz) of powder with 100 kg (220 lbs) of maize to control maize weevils and the larger grain borer. Mix 100 gm (5.3 oz) of powder with 100 kg (220 lbs) of beans to control the bean bruchids. This is effective for up to 3 months. After that time, the process must be repeated. Before using the maize for eating, thoroughly wash off the Fish Bean powder.

To control ticks, lice, and flies on animals: wash the animals with extract of the plant. To make the extract, pound fresh leaves and branches in a mortar. Dilute this with five times that volume of water. Wash the animals with this mixture.

In the house: in the evening, the walls of the room, especially corners, are beaten with fresh branches to repel mosquitoes, lice, ticks, cockroaches, etc.

To make an insecticide: two different methods have been suggested (1) Pound fresh leaves and dilute with five times that volume of water. Allow the mixture to soak overnight or boil it for 30 minutes. Add 5 ml (1 tsp.) of soap to each liter (quart) of water to help the spray stick to the leaves.

Or (2) An effective concentration for killing insects was found to be 20 gm (1 oz) of fresh leaves for every 100 ml (3.5 oz) of water. If a scale is not available, take the amount of leaves equal to the weight of an empty 300-ml coke bottle. Crush the leaves; they do not need to be crushed perfectly; you can use a plastic feed bag and large rock. Add 7 coke bottles full of water to the leaves. Put the mixture in shade, and let it set for 2 hours. Pour the mixture through a cloth to filter it. Use the mixture directly in a sprayer.

The “used” leaves may be reused for a second extract. Tests have not determined concentration levels but have shown that effective chemicals are left. If all the spray is not used immediately, it will still be approximately 70% effective 24 hours later IF kept out of direct sunlight. After that, it quickly loses strength.

It is important that the spray have contact with the pest. If the pest is underneath the leaves, be sure to actually hit the pests. This insecticide can be used with garden vegetables, fruit, and field crops to control termites, ants, beetles, aphids, cutworms, various bugs and weevils, stalk borers, flies, etc. It will kill every caterpillar overnight; most natural insecticides don’t work that fast. A mixture of Fish Bean extract and soap in water was far more effective against aphids than the soap mixture alone. The Fish Bean mixture alone (without soap) was as effective as Malathion, a deadly poison.

NOTE: If you do not wear plastic gloves when using insecticides, you should try to keep the insecticide away from your skin and wash your hands carefully with soap as soon as you have finished using the insecticide.

*All Sierra y Cielo seeds are organic, open-pollinated, & non-GMO. They have been hand collected from our gardens, where they have been adapted for 2+ generations.

Open chat