Senna alata seed Cassia alata
THE VERY TROPICAL LOOKING Senna alata is known by a number of common names—popcorn senna, candlestick or candelabra bush, empress candle plant, ringwormor candle tree—to name a few.
It’s a remarkable species of Senna.
GREAT FOR BUTTERFLY GARDENS. WONDERFUL AS A BACKGROUND, SCREENING PLANT.
It is an important medicinal tree as well as an truly striking flowering shrub/small tree. It tolerates massive heat and adores full sun. I have mine planted close to the intersection of two streets, and it sails through the summer heat like an oasis in the desert.
Native to Mexico, it can be found in diverse habitats, and is a very sturdy and robust grower.
Hardy perennial in parts of zones 8 and south.
It can grow 9 to 12 feet tall in the tropics…in central Texas, mine usually stands 6 to 8 feet tall, with a spread of about 10 to 12 feet….having pinnate leaves about 25” to 30” long, that close up at night, and during the extreme heat of the afternoon.
The stems of blooms, inflorescences, are intense, glowing yellow, and reminiscent of candles, hence some of the common names.
S. alata is also often called ringworm tree because it has very effective fungicidal properties for treating ringworm and other fungal infections of the skin. Leaves are placed in a mortar and ground into a “green cotton wool”, which is mixed with an equal amount ofoil and rubbed on the affected area several times daily. Fresh preparations are made each day. Its active ingredient is yellow chrysophanic acid.
It is also widely used in herbal soaps.