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Publication #ENH-746

Senna spectabilis: Cassia1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

Cassia is a medium to large tree from tropical America and reaches 60 feet in height, but is often much smaller. The pinnately compound leaflets have fuzzy undersides and are three inches long. The bright yellow flowers are 1.5-inches-wide but appear in dense racemes up to two feet long. The cylindrical seedpods which follow are 12-inches-long.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Senna spectabilis: Cassia


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General Information

Scientific name: Senna spectabilis
Pronunciation: SEN-uh speck-TAB-ih-liss
Common name(s): Cassia
Family: Leguminosae
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: trained as a standard; deck or patio; tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; street without sidewalk; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; specimen; highway median; container or planter
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 

Range


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Description

Height: 15 to 20 feet
Spread: 15 to 20 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: round, vase
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: odd-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: oblong, obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage


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Flower

Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: very showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: pod or pod-like, elongated
Fruit length: 6 to 12 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: low

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

This tree is best used in an open, sunny, park-like setting where the bright flowers can be displayed and enjoyed. This will form a large mass of delicate foliage covered with yellow flowers for about two months each year. Lower branches often reach to the ground as they droop under the weight of the flowers. These branches can be removed to create clearance beneath the tree for pedestrians and vehicles. This would make the tree suited for planting along streets provided major branches were developed with good attachments to the trunk. Unpruned trees branch poorly, and large-diameter limbs often develop forming a coarse-textured branching structure. Regular heading back lateral branches as they develop from the trunk on small trees helps to create more branching and a more uniformly shaped crown. Occasional pruning during the life of the tree will help maintain this regular shape.

Cassia should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil. It appears to adapt to alkaline soil.

Propagation is by seed.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases of major concern.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH-746, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.