Species Details

Details of Coffee senna will be displayed below

Coffee senna   

Common Name: Coffee senna
Scientific Name: Senna occidentalis
Local Name: Dhigu thiyara
Dhivehi Name: ދިގު ތިޔަރަ
Plantae  (Kingdom)
Tracheophyta  (Plylum)
Magnoliopsida  (Class)
Fabales  (Order)
Leguminosae  (Family)
Senna   (Genus)

Coffee senna's description

A much branched, smooth, half woody herb or shrub about 0.8 to 1.8 m tall. Stem is erect and without hairs. Leaves are bipinnately compound and about 20 to 25 cm in length. Each pinna has four to seven pairs of leaflets, which are 3 to 9 cm in length and 2 to 4 cm in width and arranged oppositely. Leaflets are ovate or ovate- lanceolate in shape with a long, fine pointed tip. Each leaf has a distinct spherical- shaped gland, which is located about 0.3 to 0.5 cm from the base of the petiole. This is one of the features that can be used to distinguish coffee senna from other related species such as Cassia tora (sickle pod) in the field. Inflorescence is a terminal or axillary raceme. Flowers are yellow coloured and about 2 cm long and 3 to 4 cm wide. Fruit is a pod, compressed, 8 to 12 cm long, 0.7 to 1 cm wide and curved slightly upwards. Each pod contains 20 to 30 seeds, which are ovoid in shape, smooth, shiny and dull brown to dark olive-green in colour.

Coffee senna's Behavior & Ecology

It grows on a variety of soils but prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil. It requires high soil moisture for better performance. It is not cultivated in large scale but grown near houses or even in home gardens. It can be easily propagated by seeds. Seeds can be collected from mature pods, which split upon maturity. Seed may be manually scarified to increase the rate of germination.

Coffee senna's Relationship with Humans

Coffee senna has many medicinal value and is reputed as a tonic, diuretic and antihelminthic agent. In the Maldives, seeds are roasted and powdered to prepare strong coffee. It is given as a substitute to coffee and also as a tonic. It is also given to alleviate asthma and to persons suffering from hysteria. In the Maldives, the leaves, which are laxative and liver detoxifying, are widely used as a leafy vegetable and eaten either raw or mixed with coconut, chilly and onion.

Coffee senna habitat

This species is a low growing herb to small shrub up to 0.5–2 m in height, with a characteristic foetid odour when bruised or crushed (Parsons and Cuthbertson 1992, Henderson 2001). It is usually a weed of cultivation, roadsides, and waste grounds near urban areas (Parsons and Cuthbertson 1992), but is also recorded from open woodlands, lakeshores, riverbanks, and coastal sand flats (Brenan 1967, Henderson 2001). Herbarium specimen labels have documented the species as common in disturbed areas. Within its native range it has been collected mainly from Cerrado, Dry Chaco, Caatinga, Pantanos de Centla, Yucatán dry/moist forests, and Veracruz moist forests (Dinerstein et al. 2017).

Coffee senna threats

There are no documented major threats to this species. High deforestation rates are occurring in parts of its large native range but this is a hardy species which can thrive in a variety of habitats, including disturbed areas and waste sites, as evidenced by herbarium specimen labels.

Coffee senna's status