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Senna alata, the Candle Bush, is an important medicinal tree as well as an ornamental flowering plants in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae. It also known as a Candelabra Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Ringworm Tree or "candletree". A remarkable species of Senna, it was sometimes separated in its own genus, Herpetica
Senna alata is native to Mexico, and can be found in diverse habitats. In the tropics it grows up to an altitude of 1,200 meters. It is an invasive species in Austronesia. In Sri Lanka this is use an ingredient of Sinhala traditional medicine.
The shrub stands 3–4 m tall, with leaves 50–80 cm long. The inflorescence looks like a yellow candle. The fruit shaped like a straight pod is up to 25 cm long. Its seed are distributed by water or animals. The leaves close in the dark.
The seed pods are nearly straight, dark brown or nearly black, about 15 cm long and 15 mm wide. On both sides of the pods there is a wing that runs the length of the pod. Pods contains 50 to 60 flattened, triangular seeds.
Cassia alata is easy to grow from seed. The seeds may either be sown directly or started in a nursery.
Cassia alata or Senna alata is often called the Ringworm Bush because of its very effective fungicidal properties, for treating ringworm and other fungal infections of the skin. The leaves are ground in a mortar to obtain a kind of "green cotton wool". This is mixed with the same amount of vegetable oil then rubbed on the affected area 2-3 times a day. A fresh preparation is made every day. Its active ingredients include the yellow chrysophanic acid.
Its laxative effect, due to its anthraquinone content, is also well proven.
- HIRT, Dr Hans Martin, & Bindanda M'Pia (2008) Natural Medicine in the Tropics I: Foundation text. anamed, Winnenden, Germany
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