Senna alata


Cassia or Senna alata has common names of emperor's candlesticks, candle bush, candelabra bush, Christmas candles, empress candle plant, ringworm shrub, and candletree. It is an herbaceous non-native annual or rarely perennial in the bean family (Fabaceae). The leaves are alternate and even pinnate compound with more than 20 leaflets. Stipules can be seen at the base of the petiole and the petiole is swollen at the base forming a pulvinus. The typical legume flowers are yellow and produced in terminal racemes above the leaves hence the candle names. The fruits are winged legumes that turn black when ripe. The caterpillars of four butterflies, Cloudless Sulphur, Orange-barred Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and Gray Hairstreak are reported to use the leaves. The caterpillars of one moth (Genista Broom Moth (Uresiphita reversalis) is also reported to use this plant. I see lots of bees visiting the flowers but very few butterflies but our plants are the host for many butterfly caterpillars. It is also interesting at night as the large leaflets fold up (really noticeable after dark) as do several of its relatives in the bean family. Reported to be medicinal in particular an anti-fungal for cure of ringworm (see one common name). Planted on Allen Acres with several clumps.