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Senna auriculata - (L.) Roxb.

Common Name Matara Tea. Tanner's cassia
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The plant contains poisonous substances[299 ]. The bark, flowers, and seeds contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, suspected of hepatotoxic properties[310 ]. The stem bark is used to stupefy fish[299 ].
Habitats Woodland and wooded grassland at elevations up to 600 metres[299 ].
Range E. Asia - India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Senna auriculata Matara Tea. Tanner

Senna auriculata Matara Tea. Tanner
Wikimedia.org - J.M.Garg


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Senna auriculata is a deciduous Tree growing to 5 m (16ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cassia auriculata L.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Some caution should be exercised when eating this plant due to reports of toxicity[K ]. Young leaves - occasionally eaten[301 ]. A famine food[299 ]. The leaves are made into a refreshing drink[317 ]. The dried leaves are used to make a tea[299 , 301 ]. Young pods - occasionally eaten[317 ]. A famine food[299 ]. Young flowers - occasionally eaten[301 ]. A famine food[299 ]. The dried flowers are used to make a coffee substitute[299 , 301 , 317 ]. A fermented mixture of pounded bark and dissolved molasses is used as an alcoholic beverage[299 ].

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 plant has a long tradition of use in local medicine, with the leaves, flowers, seeds, roots, and bark all being utilized[317 ]. Modern research has demonstrated the presence of various medically active compounds in the plant[299 ]. Saponin and the cardiac glucoside sennapicrin are reported from the roots[299 ]. The bark, flowers, and seeds contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, suspected of hepatotoxic properties. However, in experiments, leaf extracts have been shown to alleviate the effects of liver injury caused by alcohol[299 ]. Extracts of dried flowers have shown significant hypoglycaemic effect, supporting the traditional use of the plant as a treatment for diabetes[299 ]. The roots and bark are astringent and are used for gargles, as an alterative, and to cure skin diseases, eye troubles and rheumatism[299 ]. A decoction of the flowers and the seeds is recommended for diabetes[299 ]. The seeds are used to cure eye diseases, gonorrhoea and gout[299 ]. The leaves and fruits serve as an anthelmintic and diuretic[299 ]. In Tanzania the plant is used to treat impotence, which may be related to diabetes[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: The plant is utilized for green manuring (India)[317 ]. It is used for revegetating erodible soils and has proved very effective in reclaiming sodic soils which have been dressed with gypsum[299 ]. Other Uses The bark yields tannin[317 ]. The bark of plants 3 years old or more contains 15 - 24% of tannin on a dry weight basis[299 ]. A black dye is obtained from the bark[317 ]. A fast yellow dye is obtained from the flowers[299 ]. The flower buds are used in the galling process prior to dyeing cotton cloth and chintzes red, pink or purple with madder roots (Rubia cordifolia L.)[299 ]. The boiled seeds are an important ingredient in indigo vats, where specific bacterial fermentation ensures the reduction of insoluble indigo into the soluble leuco-indigo, allowing textile fibres to be impregnated by the dye solution. The seeds serve as a source of sugars to keep the fermentation process going[299 ]. A fibre is obtained from the inner bark[317 ]. The bark fibre can be made into rope[299 , 454 ] Branches are used as chewing sticks and toothbrushes[299 ]. The wood does not reach a volume adequate for timber, but sometimes handles of small tools are made from it[299 ]. A most curious use of the plant is reported from India. It is believed that branches were formerly used in the fabrication of wootz Damascus steel. They were added to the crucible and heated with the ore to obtain the chemical composition that gave the steel its beautiful patterning[299 ]. Senna auriculata is suitable for landscaping roadways and home gardens. It tolerates drought and dry conditions, but not much cold. The flowers in racemes are also attractive. Industrial Crops: Fiber, Tannin, Dye.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Dye  Industrial Crop: Fiber  Industrial Crop: Tannin  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

A plant mainly of dry regions in the tropics, though it is also able to tolerate much wetter conditions. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 16 - 27°c and can tolerate a mean annual precipitation as low as 400mm, or up to 4,300 mm[299 ]. Requires a position in full sun[299 ]. Tolerant of many soil types, including saline, but prefers a fairly rich, well-drained soil[299 ]. Plants are fairly fast-growing and can reach a height of about 3 metres with 35mm stem diameter within 2 years; and a height of about 5 metres with 70mm stem diameter within 4 years[299 ]. Plants respond well to coppicing[299 ]. Plants can be harvested for tannins and dyestuff from the third year onwards, with the plants being coppiced annually[299 ]. Flowering and fruiting is often almost throughout the year, though there can be periods of increased flowering at times of the monsoon[299 ]. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[755 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Dye  Botanical dyes replacing synthetic dyes (known as heavy polluters).
  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Industrial Crop: Tannin  Occur generally in the roots, wood, bark, leaves, and fruit of many plants. Used in tanning leather, dyeing fabric, making ink, and medical applications.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and needs scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours. Cuttings. Thinning is necessary one year after sowing. Weeding and cultivation stimulate growth but are not absolutely necessary. Limed soil is reported to increase the amount of tannin. Coppiced plants regrow well.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Anwala, Avarai, Avaram, Avarike, Awal, Peik-thingat, Ranauraa, Ranawara, Tangedu, Tanner's senna, Tarvad, Tarwad, Tawar,

Africa, Asia, Central Africa, Central African Republic, CAR, Congo, East Africa, Ghana, India, Indochina, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, West Africa, Yemen

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

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

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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


(L.) Roxb.

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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