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"Cassia lanceolata" redirects here. This taxon may also refer to other plants; see below.
Alexandrian Senna
Conservation status
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Tribe: Cassieae
Genus: Senna
Species: S. alexandrina
Binomial name
Senna alexandrina

Many, see text

Senna alexandrina (Alexandrian Senna, and see below) is an ornamental plant in the genus Senna. It is also used in herbalism. It grows natively in upper Egypt, especially in the Nubian region, and near Khartoum (Sudan), where it is cultivated commercially. It is also grown elsewhere, notably in India and Somalia.

Alexandrian Senna is a shrubby plant that reaches 0.5-1, rarely two meters in height with branched pale green erect stem, long spreading branches, bearing four or five pairs of leaves. These are complex feathery mutual pairs. The leaflets are varying from 4 to 6 pairs, fully edged, with a sharp top. The midribs are equally divided at the base of the leaflets. The flowers are in a raceme interior blossoms, big in size, coloured yellow that tends to brown. Its legume fruit are horned, broadly oblong, compressed and flat and contain about six seeds.

When cultured, twice a year the plants are cut down, dried in the sun, stripped and packed in palm-leaf bags. They are then sent on camels to Essouan and Darao, then up the Nile to Cairo or else to Red Sea ports. For the nomadic Ababda, for example, trade in senna provides a significant source of income.

Names and taxonomy

S. alexandrina is also known under the names Egyptian Senna, Tinnevelly Senna, East Indian Senna or the French sene de la palthe

It received the names "Alexandrian Senna" and "Egyptian Senna" because Alexandria in Egypt was the main trade port in past times. The fruits and leaves were transported from Nubia and Sudan and other places to Alexandria then from it and across the Mediterranean sea to Europe and adjacent Asia.

Though it might look like a scientific name, Cassia Officinalis is actually the apothecary term for this plant, and hence Officinalis - the Latin adjective denoting tools, utensils and medical compounds - is written with a large "o", unlike in specific names which are always written small today.


  • Cassia acutifolia Delile
  • Cassia alexandrina (Garsault) Thell.
  • Cassia angustifolia M. Vahl
  • Cassia lanceolata Collad.
C. lanceolata Link is a synonym of Senna sophera var. sophera)
C. lanceolata Pers. is a synonym of Chamaecrista desvauxii var. mollissima
  • Cassia lenitiva Bisch.
  • Cassia senna L.
  • Senna acutifolia (Delile) Batka
  • Senna alexandrina Garsault
  • Senna angustifolia (Vahl) Batka




Modern medicine has since at least the 1950s[2] used S. alexandrina as a laxative.[3][4] If accidentally ingested by infants, it can cause side effects such as severe diaper rash.[5] The active ingredients are several senna glycosides[6] which interact with immune cells in the colon.[7]


  1. ^ ILDIS (2005)
  2. ^ Duncan, As (Feb 1957), "Standardized senna as a laxative in the puerperium; a clinical assessment" (Free full text), British medical journal 1 (5016): 439–41, ISSN 0007-1447, PMID 13396280, PMC 1974525,  
  3. ^ Spiller, Ha; Winter, Ml; Weber, Ja; Krenzelok, Ep; Anderson, Dl; Ryan, Ml (May 2003), "Skin breakdown and blisters from senna-containing laxatives in young children", The Annals of pharmacotherapy 37 (5): 636–9, doi:10.1345/aph.1C439, ISSN 1060-0280, PMID 12708936  
  4. ^ Kinnunen, O; Winblad, I; Koistinen, P; Salokannel, J (Oct 1993), "Safety and efficacy of a bulk laxative containing senna versus lactulose in the treatment of chronic constipation in geriatric patients." (Free full text), Pharmacology 47 Suppl 1: 253–5, ISSN 0031-7012, PMID 8234438,  
  5. ^ Spiller, Ha; Winter, Ml; Weber, Ja; Krenzelok, Ep; Anderson, Dl; Ryan, Ml (May 2003), "Skin breakdown and blisters from senna-containing laxatives in young children.", The Annals of pharmacotherapy 37 (5): 636–9, ISSN 1060-0280, PMID 12708936  
  6. ^ Hietala, P; Marvola, M; Parviainen, T; Lainonen, H (Aug 1987), "Laxative potency and acute toxicity of some anthraquinone derivatives, senna extracts and fractions of senna extracts.", Pharmacology & toxicology 61 (2): 153–6, ISSN 0901-9928, PMID 3671329  
  7. ^ Lemli, J (Nov 1995), "Mechanism of action of sennosides", Bulletin de l'Academie nationale de medecine 179 (8): 1605–11, ISSN 0001-4079, PMID 8717178  


  • el Sayid Haykal, Mohamed & Abd Razik Omar, Abdalluh (1993): Medicinal plants & Aromatic plants - Its chemistry-production-benefits (2nd ed.). Dar el Maaref, Alexandria.
  • International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS) (2005): Genera Cassia and Senna. Version 10.01, November 2005. Retrieved 2007-DEC-20.
  • Irwin, H.S. & Barneby, R.C. (1982): The American Cassiinae. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 35: 1-918

External links

Senna alexandrina profile at


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Senna alexandrina


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales
Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Caesalpinioideae
Tribus: Cassieae
Subtribus: Cassiinae
Genus: Senna
Species: Senna alexandrina


Senna alexandrina Mill.



  • Gard. dict. ed. 8: Senna no. 1. 1768
  • Lock J.M. 1988: Cassia Sens. Lat. (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae) in Africa Kew Bulletin, 43, No. 2: 333-342
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Senna alexandrina on Wikimedia Commons.


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