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Useful Tropical Plants

Senna alexandrina

Mill.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Cassia acutifolia Delile

Cassia angustifolia Vahl

Cassia senna L.

Common Name: Alexandrian Senna

Senna alexandrina
Flowers and immature seedpods
Photograph by: Lalithamba
Creative Commons License
Senna alexandrina Senna alexandrina Senna alexandrina Senna alexandrina Senna alexandrina Senna alexandrina

General Information

Alexandrian senna is a deciduous shrub growing up to 3 metres tall[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Senna is one of the world's most commonly used laxatives, with a very long history of use dating back thousands of years. It is cultivated in many tropical areas, especially India, for its leaves and pods[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Tropical Africa through the Arabian Peninsula to India.

Habitat

Semi-desert scrub and grassland, particularly in valley bottoms, flood plains and on river banks, often associated with Acacia spp. It occurs from sea-level up to elevations of 1,300 metres[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Properties

Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitDeciduous Shrub
Height3.00 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Plants can be grown in the drier warm temperate to tropical zones.
Prefers a deep, well-drained, moderately fertile sandy loam and a position in full sun[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Germination is hampered by salinity but older plants are salt-tolerant. Senna alexandrina does not tolerate continuous waterlogging or heavy irrigation[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The plant is mostly grown as an annual crop, but it can be left standing to produce for another 2 - 3 years[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Flowers and fruits are formed throughout the year[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Yields vary considerably depending on the soil and water conditions. In India the average annual yield is about 700 kg of leaves and 100 kg of pods per ha under rainfed conditions. Under irrigation the yield of leaves and pods is about 1400 kg/ha and 150 kg/ha, respectively. Although the sennoside content is higher when plants are under stress, moderate irrigation and fertilization pay off through increased leaf and total sennoside yields[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[
755
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

The leaves and pods have been used as a laxative and purgative since ancient times and remains an important treatment in both traditional and conventional medicine[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The active constituents of the leaves and the wall of the pods are essentially the same and consist of 2 - 5% anthraquinone derivatives and related dianthrone glycosides on dry weight basis. The dried drug contains mainly sennosides A and B, together with small quantities of related compounds. The sennosides are little resorbed in the small intestine but once in the colon, they are hydrolyzed by the bacterial flora and the anthraquinones formed are reduced to form the active anthrones, which are responsible for the laxative activity as they stimulate peristalsis. Pharmaceutical grade leaves must contain 5.5 - 8.0% sennoside B, whereas pods must contain at least 2.2% (‘Tinnevelly senna’) to 3.4% (‘Alexandrian senna’) sennoside B[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Much medical research has been published on the possible health risks of using this plant as a laxative[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. No carcinogenic effects of prolonged use have been found, but even so it should only be used for occasional constipation, as prolonged use can lead to chronic ulcerative colitis[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Use of the drug is contraindicated in case of intestinal obstruction and acute intestinal inflammation[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Use for children under 12 years of age and pregnant or lactating women should be discouraged[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The use of preparations for weight reduction is dangerous[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Ethanol extracts of leaves of Senna alexandrina show inhibitory activity against Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, but not against gram-negative bacteria[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The plant is also used traditionally to treat a number of other conditions.

A decoction of the pods is drunk to get rid of intestinal worms and to cure difficulties in breathing[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. An infusion of the pods is recommended as a purgative for pregnant women and also to suppress fever[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

An infusion of the leaves is drunk to overcome flatulence and convulsions and to stop nosebleeds[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]

Agroforestry Uses:

The species has been recommended for soil conservation[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Other Uses

The wood is used to make farm tools[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Propagation

Seed - requires pre-treatment since untreated seed has a poor germination rate[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Pre-soaking for 12 - 24 hours in warm water helps, but scarifying with sulphuric acid has proved to be more effective with larger quantities of seed[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. In small quantities, the seed can be sown in containers, in larger amounts it is usually broadcast at rates of 15 - 25 kg/ha[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

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