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Senna alexandrina


plant overview
egyptian fruit and bean

Senna is the name for a genus of plants in bean family that contains more than 300 different species. Alexandrian Senna is an attractive species that occurs naturally in the Nubian region of Egypt and is cultivated in India, Somalia and Sudan. The leaves and seed pods of the plant contain a variety of glycosides that are collectively referred to as sennosides. These compounds are known to produce laxative effects. In fact, in the U.S., senna is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a non-prescription laxative. Although both pods and leaves are traditionally used to produce teas, tisanes and tonics to counter constipation, preparations made from the pods are gentler.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.
A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on senna

Senna alexandrina is a shrubby plant and a member of the Fabaceae family.

Senna's pale-green, branched, erect stem and long spreading branches grow up to 0.5–1 meters in height. The branches bear four or five pairs of leaves that form feathery, complex, mutual pairs. The leaflets vary in number from 4 to 6 pairs; they are fully edged, with a sharp top. At the base of these leaflets the midribs are equally divided.

Senna's flowers are produced in a raceme interior blossom; they are large in size, and are colored yellow that tends to brown. There are about six seeds in its fruit. The fruit is a legume which is horned, broadly oblong, compressed and flats.

common names & nomenclature
In the past, Alexandria, Egypt was the main trade port. Senna's fruit and leaves were transported from northern African locales such as Nubia and Sudan to Alexandria. Senna has additional the common names Alexandrian Senna and Egyptian Senna because of this history.

Also known as:
khartoum senna, india senna, egyptian senna, alexandrian senna, tinnevelly senna, cassia officinalis, east indian senna, séné de la palthe

Senna, the Egyptian fruit and bean
Where in the World
habitat and range for senna

Senna alexandrina grows natively in upper Egypt, especially in the Nubian region, and near Khartoum (Sudan). It is also grown elsewhere, notably in India and Somalia.

Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting senna

Senna grows in sun to part shade in thickets, on dry roadsides, other disturbed areas, as well as sandy fields and open woods.

Senna succeeds in most well-drained soils but prefers an open sandy loam.

Scarify and then pre-soak the seed for 2-3 hours in warm water before sowing. Sow seeds in a warm greenhouse from early spring to early summer. The seed usually germinates in 1-12 weeks at 23°C. Transplant out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse. Do not plant them out until the following spring.

Senna leaves are harvested twice yearly. Typical harvest months are April and September. Senna pods are harvested in the autumn, both herbs and pods are dried for later use.

Store dried senna pods, dried senna leaf and powdered senna leaf in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor,
especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.