Desert Cassia
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Desert Cassia
ntroduced Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Desert Cassia
Botanical name: Senna polyphylla    Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Gulmohar family)
Synonyms: Cassia polyphylla

Desert cassia is a shrub or occasionally a small tree of dry and moist forests of the middle Caribbean, now cultivated as an ornamental. It is usually 2-3 m in height, but rarely reaches 5 m in height and 12 cm in trunk diameter. The bark of older stems is dark gray and furrowed with short scaly plates. Multiple stems sprouting from the root crown are common, even in small plants. The stems are mostly clean, long and wand-like. Desert cassia develops a root system with a strong taproot. The twigs are slender, warty, and light green, maturing to brown. The leaves are alternate or clustered three to five at the nodes. These pinnately compound leaves have 3-15 pairs of leaflets that are 4-10 mm long. The five-petaled flowers are yellow and about 3.8 cm across, grouped in axillary racemes of mostly two flowers. The legume is linear, 8-15 cm long, slightly contorted, flattened between the seeds, and dark brown at maturity. The seeds are round, flattened, and dark brown.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed in Delhi.

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