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Chamaecrista nigricans - (Vahl) Greene

Common Name Diola, Diala
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Waste places, agricultural fields, roadsides and disturbed soil; also found in grassland and wooded savannah, at elevations from sea-level up to 1,200 metres[ 299 ].
Range Africa - widely distributed through tropical areas, through Arabia and southwest Asia to Pakistan and India.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Chamaecrista nigricans Diola, Diala

Stefan Dressler; African plants - A Photo Guide
Chamaecrista nigricans Diola, Diala
Stefan Dressler; African plants - A Photo Guide


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Chamaecrista nigricans is an erect , tropical, woody plant up to 150 cm tall found in Africa. It is usually harvested from the wild for medicinal purposes. Mature leaves of C nigricans are bitter and added to food as an appetizer. Though used as pesticide, the leaves have medicinal purposes as well and used in the treatment of fever, malaria, cough, stomach pain, ulcers, diarrhoea, and worms. Infusion or decoction of leaves is applied on wounds and other skin conditions. The leaves can also be dried and made into powder and later on used as a storage protectant for pulses.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Chamaecrista nigricans is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cassia nigricans Vahl

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Condiment

The bitter mature leaves are added to food as an appetizer[ 299 ]. The leaves are used for flavouring in sauces and other dishes.

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.
Analgesic  Anthelmintic  Antibacterial  Antidiarrhoeal  Antiinflammatory  Antiseptic  Antitussive  Astringent  
Cholera  Febrifuge  Malaria  Parasiticide  Purgative  Skin  Stings  

The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, pesticide and vermifuge[ 299 ]. They are used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions including fevers and malaria; venereal diseases; coughs; stomach-ache, peptic ulcers, diarrhoea and worms[ 299 ]. An infusion of the aerial parts is taken as an anti-menstruation agent[ 299 ]. Externally, an infusion or decoction of the leaves is applied to various skin conditions including insect stings, itching skin, wounds and abscesses[ 299 ]. They are pounded in water and applied to ticks on humans and horses; and, mixed with palm oil, are rubbed on the head to kill lice[ 299 ]. An infusion of the aerial parts is added to a bath to treat haemorrhoids[ 299 ]. The root is anthelmintic, astringent, oxytocic and purgative[ 299 ]. Pounded with water, it is used as a treatment against diarrhoea, whilst an infusion or decoction is used to remove internal parasites and stimulate uterine contractions to remove a retained placenta and to promote labour[ 299 ]. The leaves contain the anthraquinone emodin[ 299 ]. Methanolic extracts have shown analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. They have also shown a protective action against ulcers, this may be via histaminergic receptor inhibition[ 299 ]. The extract also has a dose-dependent antidiarrhoeal activity[ 299 ]. The extract has also shown contraceptive activity through oestrogenic and anti-implantation activities[ 299 ]. Ethanolic plant extracts have shown antibacterial activity against Shigella dysenteriae, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus faecalis, and Vibrio cholerae[ 299 ]. Tests with plant extracts have shown significant action against Herpes simplex virus type 1 in vitro[ 299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Hair  Insecticide  Parasiticide  Repellent

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Other Uses: The dried leaves, leaf powder, ash and extracts have all been used as a protection from insects in the storage of pulses and cereals[ 299 ]. It has been shown that the powdered leaves are effective as a storage protectant for pulses, as they inhibit the hatching of insect larvae. They are not a health threat if removed before consumption[ 299 ].

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

The plant has a wide distribution in the tropics, being found in a wide range of habitats at elevations up to 1,200 metres. It grows well in areas with a mean annual rainfall in the range 950 - 1,400mm spread over 5 - 6 months, as in the Sudano-Guinean zone of West Africa[ 299 ]. The plant is especially common on heavy lateritic soils[ 299 ]. The plant is a spontaneous weed through much of the tropics and subtropics, and is sometimes found even in Australia[ 299 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[ 755 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Propagation Seed - germinates easily[ 299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chamaecrista nigricans. Other Names: Bara-bubel, Bono, Chila-ja-lo, Heb eddbae, Lali-baba, Macarra-bubel, Massacali, Silatalo.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Found In: Africa, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, GuinŽe, Guinea-Bissau, India, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, West Africa.

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.

The plant is a spontaneous weed through much of the tropics and subtropics, and is sometimes found even in Australia

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Chamaecrista fasciculataGolden Cassia, Partridge peaAnnual1.0 4-8  LMHSNM001
Chamaecrista rotundifoliaRound-leaf cassiaShrub1.0 9-11 FLMSNDM004

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.


Expert comment


(Vahl) Greene

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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