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SENNA alata

Image of Senna alata

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Fabaceae

Botanical Name

SENNA alata

Plant Common Name

Candelabra Bush, Candle Bush, Candlestick Cassia, Candletree, Emperor's Candlesticks, Ringworm Tree

General Description

Large, lush and blessed with gorgeous candles of golden yellow flowers, this tropical, evergreen shrub is also a desert garden favorite. It is native to well-drained soils of Tropical America, but has proven perfect for the Old World tropics, dry, or warm temperate climates that are frost-free or have mild but frosty winters. Large, compound, green leaves offer a lush background to the brilliant tropical flowers.

This is a useful midsummer bloomer that holds its color well into the fall where the climate is warm enough. The tall spikes of yellow flowers are held at the branch tips, so they remain highly visible and attract butterflies. This species has proven somewhat invasive where the climate favors germination of its seeds.

Grow the Empress candle plant in full sun and almost any well-drained soil It does not require highly fertile soil, but becomes quite lush and fast-growing with ample water and fertilizer. It is on the cusp between a large shrub and a small tree; in regions with light winter freezes it is killed to the ground and rejuvenates like a perennial in late spring or seedlings sprout to become new plants. Use it for a fast-growing screen or hedge. Otherwise, how it serves a landscape may be strictly defined by how it is trimmed.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    6'-30' / 1.8m - 9.1m

  • Width

    6'-13' / 1.8m - 4.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Brown, Chocolate

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes