Senna Facts

Senna Facts
Senna is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the pea family. There are 260 to 350 species of senna. Most species grow in subtropical and tropical areas (few species can be found in temperate regions). Senna prefers moist areas. It can be found in the meadows, fields, pastures, floodplains and areas near the road. Senna grows on fertile, moist, well-drained soil, exposed to direct sunlight or in the partial shade. Around 50 species of senna are cultivated in ornamental and medical purposes. Some wild species of senna are listed as endangered due to habitat loss.
Interesting Senna Facts:
Senna can reach 3 to 60 feet in height, depending on the species. It grows in the form of herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees.
Senna has pinnate leaves, composed of 10 to 20 oblong, oppositely arranged leaflets. Leaflets have smooth edges and pointed tips. They are dark green colored.
Senna produces yellow flowers arranged in the form of spikes that grow from the axils of leaves or at the end of the branches. Each flower consists of 5 petals and sepals, 10 stamens and one pistil. Flowers are not fragrant.
Senna blooms during the summer and attracts bumblebees and bees, main pollinators of this plant.
Fruit of senna is seedpod. It usually consists of several segments filled with numerous seed. Fruit ripens during the autumn and splits explosively to release the seed.
Senna propagates via seed and rhizome sprouts.
Seed of wild senna represents important source of food for the birds, such as quail.
Some species of senna have extrafloral nectaries, special type of glands that are located near the leaves or floral stalks. These glands produce sugary substance which serves as source of food for the ants and ladybird beetles. In return, these insects protect senna from the insects that feed on leaves of this plant.
Cassia gum is an extract obtained from the seed of Chinese senna which is used as thickening agent in the food industry.
Leaves and flowers of Siamese senna are used in human diet. They are especially popular in the Asian cuisine where they are used for the preparation of curries.
One species of senna is known as natural henna. It contains yellow pigment that is used for coloring of hair.
Some species of senna are rich source of tannins that are used for tanning of leather.
Leaves and pods of Senna Alexandrina contain compounds (called anthraquinones) which stimulate bowel movement and soften the stool. They are used as laxative for hundreds of years.
Senna is an ingredient of numerous commercially available products (granules, powders, tablets, capsules and liquid solutions) that are used to prevent constipation. These preparations should not be used more than a week.
Senna is perennial plant that can survive more than 5 years in the wild.

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