FAMILY: Caesalpiniaceae

  • Deciduous
  • Evergreen
  • Perennials
  • Shrubs
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Moderate Water
  • Regular Water

Plant Details

Previously included in Cassia and still often sold as such, these species have been reclassified as Senna. Grown for their lavish show of yellow, five-petaled flowers that look something like those of potentilla. Blossoms are followed by seedpods that may create litter; to reduce pod production, prune lightly after bloom. Rangy, rank growers should also be cut back periodically to encourage more compact growth. Good for screens, massing, background plantings. Prefer well-drained soil.

candlestick senna

senna alata

  • Evergreen shrub.
  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
  • Native to many tropical regions of the world.
  • May reach 30 feet tall and half as wide, but more likely to be 610 feet tall and 34 feet wide in gardens.
  • Bright green leaves divided into 14 to 28 oblong leaflets, each 212 inches long.
  • Golden yellow, inch-wide flowers in big, spikelike clusters appear from fall into winter.
  • Prune hard after bloom.

feathery cassia

senna artemisioides

  • Evergreen shrub.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native to Australia.
  • To 35 feet tall and wide, with attractive light, airy structure.
  • Gray leaves divided into six to eight needlelike, 1 inches-long leaflets.
  • Bears bright yellow, 34 inches flowers in clusters of five to eight in winter and spring, with bloom often continuing into summer.
  • Heavy seed production.
  • Very drought tolerant but looks better with moderate to regular water.

christmas senna

senna bicapsularis

  • Evergreen shrub.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native to tropical Central and South America.
  • Recovers after being killed to ground by frost.
  • To 10 feet tall and wide.
  • Bright green leaves with six to ten roundish, rather thick leaflets, each to 34 inches long.
  • Bright yellow, 12 inches-wide flowers in spikelike clusters from midautumn to midwinter or until cut down by frost.
  • Prune severely after flowering.
  • Resembles Senna pendula glabrata, which can be quite invasive; buy from a trusted source to be sure you are getting the true Senna bicapsularis.

flowery senna

senna corymbosa

  • Evergreen shrub.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native to South America.
  • Rangy growth to 10 feet tall, 1012 feet wide.
  • Dark green leaves with six narrow, oblong, 1- to 2 inches leaflets.
  • Rounded clusters of 112 inches bright yellow flowers, spring to fall.
  • Self-sowing can be a problem.

velvet-leaf senna

senna lindheimeriana

  • Perennial.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native to Texas, Arizona, Mexico.
  • Usually slender and upright to 23 feet tall, but may reach 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide.
  • Velvety gray leaves are divided into 8 to 16 narrowly oval, pointed leaflets, each 12 inches long.
  • Rich yellow, 112 inches-wide flowers in late summer and fall.
  • Grows well in caliche soils.
  • Not a good choice for high-rainfall areas or heavily watered gardens; it will rot if soil is too wet.

wild senna, maryland senna

senna marilandica

  • Perennial.
  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Native from Pennsylvania to Florida, west to Iowa, Kansas, and Texas.
  • Slender and usually unbranched; grows 46 feet tall, 23 feet wide.
  • Feathery bright green leaves are divided into 8 to 16 oval, inch-long leaflets.
  • Tall clusters of brownish yellow flowers top the stems in summer.
  • Dies to ground in winter.

golden wonder senna

senna splendida

  • Evergreen shrub.
  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
  • Native to Brazil.
  • To 912 feet high and 610 feet wide, with bright green leaves divided into four oval, pointed leaflets to 3 inches long.
  • Deep golden yellow, 112 inches-wide flowers come in loose clusters at branch ends from autumn into winter.
  • This common name has been applied to a number of sennas of varying growth habits; other golden wonder sennas have bright yellow flowers and are strongly horizontal in branch pattern, growing 58 feet high and spreading to 12 feet wide.
  • All sennas known by this name produce many seeds and should be severely pruned after flowering.

canyon senna

senna wislizeni

  • Deciduous shrub.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • Native to West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico.
  • To 58 feet tall and 510 feet wide.
  • Attractive upright branches hold small green leaves divided into four to six leaflets, each 1 14 inches long.
  • Clusters of bright yellow, inch-wide flowers appear all summer.
  • Little water.

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