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Cassia_fistula - L.

Common Name Golden Shower, Purging Cassia, Golden Chain Tree, Indian Laburnum
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
Habitats Dry deciduous forest at lower altitudes[ 303 ].
Range E. Asia - Indian subcontinent. Naturalized in other areas of the tropics, including east Africa.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Cassia_fistula Golden Shower, Purging Cassia, Golden Chain Tree, Indian Laburnum

Cassia_fistula Golden Shower, Purging Cassia, Golden Chain Tree, Indian Laburnum


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Golden Shower, Cassia fistula, is a tropical, deciduous or evergreen tree with an erect and slender trunk and small buttresses native to India. It is slow growing and reaches up to 9-20 m tall and 3-5 m wide upon maturity. The leaves are green and wedge-shaped at the base, the flowers are yellow, the fruits are brown pods, and the seeds are brown and glossy. Edible parts are the young leaves, flower buds, flowers, and pulp of the pods. Golden shower has been used mainly for medicinal purposes. In particular, ripe pods and seeds are used as a laxative. The root, bark, leaves, and fruit pulp have laxative properties as well but to a lesser extent. Powdered seeds can be used in the treatment of amoebiasis and bark extracts against inflammation. Water extract of the leaves has antifungal activity against human pathogens. The pods are used against malaria, blood poisoning, anthrax, diabetes, and dysentery. Bark and leaves are used in the treatment of various skin conditions, broken bones, and tropical ulcers. Further, the bark is used for tanning and wood is used in charcoal making and as material in construction, fence post, carts, etc.

Physical Characteristics

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Cassia_fistula is a deciduous Tree growing to 18 m (59ft) by 16 m (52ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Bactyrilobium fistula Willd. Cassia bonplandiana DC. Cassia excelsa Kunth. Cassia fistuloides Collad

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible portion: Leaves, Flowers, Pod pulp, Fruit, Spice. The bark is an ingredient in betel paste, the slightly narcotic masticatory that is popular in some areas of Asia[ 299 ]. The flowers are edible[ 301 , 303 ] and can be fried. Leaves[ 301 ]. Mildly laxative[ 301 ]. The young leaves and flower buds are cooked as a vegetable. Fruit pulp[ 301 ]. A sweet taste with a mucilaginous texture[ 459 ]. Mildly laxative[ 301 , 348 ]. The pulverised seeds are used as a laxative[ 348 ]. The fruit pulp contains derived anthracenes[ 348 ]. The pulp is used as an ingredient in spiced Indian tobacco.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The ripe pods and seeds are widely used in both traditional and conventional medicine as a laxative. The root-bark, leaves and flowers also have laxative properties, but to a lesser extent[ 299 ]. In modern medicine, the fruit pulp is sometimes used as a mild laxative in paediatrics[ 299 ]. The fruit pulp and leaves are rich in anthraquinone derivatives (around 2%), and glycosides, which are responsible for the laxative properties[ 299 ]. The fruit pulp is rich in pectins and mucilage[ 299 ]. In-vitro and in-vivo tests have shown that the seed powder has amoebicidal and cysticidal properties against Entamoeba histolytica and that it could cure intestinal amoebiasis of humans. The aqueous fraction of the pods has produced a significant decrease in glycaemia[ 299 ]. Aqueous and methanolic bark extracts have shown significant anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[ 299 ]. An alcohol extract of the leaves has shown antibacterial activity in vivo against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, plus accelerated wound healing[ 299 ]. A water extract of the leaves has shown antifungal activity against the human skin pathogens Trichophyton spp., Epidermatophyton floccosum and Microsporum ferruginum[ 299 ]. The pods are used as a remedy for malaria, blood poisoning, anthrax, diabetes and dysentery[ 299 ]. The pods contain a sweet, sticky pulp[ 307 ]. A decoction of this is taken as a cure for kidney stones, as a vermifuge and as a laxative[ 299 ]. The pulp is extracted from the pods by bruising them and then boiling them in water, after which the decoction is evaporated. It may be obtained from fresh pods by opening them at the sutures and removing the pulp with a spatula[ 459 ]. The pulp is apt to become sour if long exposed to the air, or mouldy if kept in a damp place[459. The bark or leaves are widely applied to skin problems[299. Broken bones and tropical ulcers are bandaged with bark scrapings and leaf sap[ 299 ]. The heartwood is traditionally applied as an anthelmintic[ 299 ]. A decoction of the roots is applied to purify wounds and ulcers[ 299 ]. In India the roots are used to treat fevers[ 299 ]. The concentration of sennoside in the leaves of Cassia fistula is highest soon after the onset of the rainy season, when new leaves have appeared and flowering started[ 299 ]. The sennoside content of the pods is highest at the mid-stage of fruit maturation, when the pods are pale brown[ 299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Other uses rating: Low (2/5). Flowering tree, Avenue or street tree, Specimen, Public open space, Civic centre. Agroforestry Uses: Suitable for use as a pioneer, the tree can be planted for the restoration of degraded lands and restoration of woodland. Since it is not palatable to domestic animals, it may be suitable for the reforestation of areas which have become overgrazed[ 404 ]. Other Uses The bark is used for tanning and dyeing[ 299 , 320 ]. The seeds of Cassia fistula are a potential commercial source of seed gum, a potential binder for the pharmaceutical industry[ 299 ]. The water soluble gum isolated from the seeds has been evaluated for its binding properties for formulations of tablets. The gum showed overall superiority in viscosity and binding properties as compared to other binders[ 299 ]. The heartwood is yellow; it is distinctly demarcated from the white sapwood[ 404 ]. The wood is reddish[ 303 ]. The grain is straight to slightly interlocked; the texture moderately coarse; the wood is hard, heavy, strong and durable[ 303 , 404 ]. It provides a hard multipurpose timber that can be used for buildings, carts, fence posts, agricultural implements etc[ 299 , 320 , 598 ]. The wood is used to make a good quality charcoal[ 320 , 404 ]. Cassia fistula is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds.

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Plants succeed in the dry to moist tropics and subtropics, growing in areas where the annual rainfall is in the range 500 - 2,700 mm and the average annual temperatures is 18 - 29°c[ 299 ]. Plants are vulnerable to frost[ 299 ]. Prefers a deep, well-drained, moderately fertile sandy loam and a position in full sun[ 200 ]. It seems to favour calcareous and red, volcanic soils, but is also found on sandy and loamy soils with a pH of 5.5 - 8.7[ 299 ]. Tolerates some shade[ 299 ]. Established plants are fairly drought resistant[ 299 , 598 ]. The plants are slow-growing and generally take 8 - 10 years from sowing to flowering[ 299 ]. This period can be reduced by vegetative propagation[ 299 ]. At the beginning of flowering, the whole crown is covered with flowers; sporadic flowering continues for up to 3 months[ 299 ]. The seeds take about a year to ripen[ 307 ]. The tree coppices well and produces root suckers freely[ 299 ]. It does not compete well with weeds[ 299 ]. Although it is a legume, the roots of this species lack nodulating ability and do not fix atmospheric nitrogen[ 299 ]. Trees start flowering when 5 years old.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed. The seeds have a hard seed coat and germination is improved by mechanical scarification or treatment with concentrated sulphuric acid for at least 45 minutes[ 299 ]. Pre-soaking for 12 - 24 hours in warm water can also be tried[ K ]. The seed should be sown in full light, and adequate water supply is required for optimal germination - the seed can increase three times in weight by absorbing water[ 299 ]. Germination takes place within a few days[ 303 ]. Direct sowing is practised in Asia[ 299 ]. Seed can be stored for prolonged periods without loss of viability[ 299 ]. Cuttings of half ripe wood[ 200 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Golden Shower, Cassia fistula. Other Names: Ai-kadus, Alash, Ali, Amaltas, Amultas, Bahava, Bahawa, Bereska, Cana pistula, Chaiya-pruek, Garmala, Girimalah, Girmala, Golden rain tree, Golden rain, Guolong liang, Indian Laburnum, Kakke, Khuun, Kiar, Kirwara, Konnai, Konnei, Koon, Ngu, Phung-ril, Pudding-pipe tree, Purging Cassia, Rajah kayu, Rajataru, Rajbrikh, Rajbriksh, Rela, Riechpuhs, Sarakkondrai, Sonalu, Sonaru, Sundali, Suvarnaka, Trengguli.

Found In: Africa, Asia, Australia, Bermuda, Burma, Cambodia, Central America, China, Costa Rica, East Africa, East Timor, Ethiopia, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Himalayas, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, SE Asia, Senegal, Singapore, Sikkim, South America, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

With care; Can be weedy.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cassia fistulaGolden Shower, Purging Cassia, Golden Chain Tree, Indian LaburnumTree18.0 9-11 SLMHNM142

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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