Italian Cassia
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Italian Cassia
P Native Herb pinnate Photo: Tabish
Common name: Italian Cassia, Port Royal senna, Italian senna, Senegal senna
Botanical name: Senna italica    Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Gulmohar family)
Synonyms: Cassia italica, Cassia obtusa, Senna obovata

Italian Cassia is a deciduous, perennial herbs, or shrub up to 60 cm tall. The plant is woody throughout. Taproots are present in this plant. Stems are solid, usually less than 2 m tall. These stems or young twigs are hairless or sparsely hairless and sparsely to densely hairy. This species has compound leaves with pinnate veination. There are approximately 4-6 leaflets per leaf, which are arranged spirally and alternately. Flowers of Italian Cassia are actinomorphic and the inflorescence takes the form of in leaf-axils racemes, which are about 2–25 cm long. Petals of these flowers are usually yellow or orange in color, up to 13 mm long and are of obovate shape. Rhombic to ovate bracts are conspicuously present, but very small in size (up to 5mm long). The flower of Senegal senna is bisexual, zygomorphic and 5-merous. It usually has 10 stamens (lower 2 are the largest; 5 are medium sized; 3 are short and sterile), Style up to 6 mm long and a superior ovary with short and stiff hair. Senna has freely dehiscent fruits. Fruits are oblong or ellipsoidal; they are strongly curved, sickle shaped, bent or lunate shaped. The fruit may contain as many as 11 seeds. The seeds have elliptical line or depression and are wrinkled or rugose. Seeds are usually of olive, green or black color. Italian Cassia
Medicinal uses: The leaves, pods and seeds of Senna italica are mostly used in traditional medicine. In Malawi, root infusion is used to treat diarrhea in infants. In India, the leaves are used as a hair treatment called neutral henna or “blonde henna”. This treatment coats the hair so that it looks glossy and thick for several weeks, but instead of being completely neutral, "neutral henna" appears to have a yellowish impact on hair rather than the reddish one produced by henna.

Identification credit: P. Samydurai Photographed in IIT Campus, Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

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