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Senna alata

Pronunciation: Sen-nuh a-lay-tuh
Family: Fabaceae/leguminosae (bean family)
Synonym: Cassia alata, cassia bracteata
Common Name: Christmas senna, popcorn senna, christmas candle, ringworm shrub, seven golden candlesticks, candlestick senna
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 30'
Width to: 15'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • full sun
Bloom Description: The cup shaped flowers are bright yellow, and carried in erect terminal clusters arising from leaf axils. The individual flowers are about an inch (2. 5 cm) across. The standard is the longest petal and the other petals are similar to each other. The sepals that protect the flowers before they open are waxy and smooth to the touch. The candle-like flower clusters include open flowers at the bottom and unopened flowers with their waxy coverings at the top
Soil Type: Normal garden soils and moisture suit this tropical shrub quite well. Mature plants are drought resistant.
Plant Perks:
  • Attracts Butterflies
Propagation: Christmas candle is easy to start from seed, and you can expect volunteer seedlings to emerge under last year's plants in late spring when soil temperatures warm. However, we recommend starting seeds indoors several weeks before the last frost to give the plants a head start on the season.
Native to: The tropics, including africa, southeast asia, the pacific islands, and even tropical america. Such a widespread natural distribution for a single species is very uncommon.
Notes for Identification:

 christmas candle is one source of chrysophanic acid, which is used in medicines that treat certain skin diseases, including ringworm. The compound is believed to have antiviral properties as well.

Located in: Trees, Shrubs
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