Senna: 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
Senna: 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.

Senna: 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.