Indian Senna
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Indian Senna
P Native Photo: Tabish
Common name: Indian Senna, Alexandrian senna, Tirunelveli Senna, Egyptian Senna, Tinnevelly Senna • Hindi: हिन्द सना Hind-sana • Kannada: ಸೋನಾಮುಖಿ Sonamukhi, ನೆಲಾವರೆ Nelavare, ನೆಲಾವರಿಕೆ Nelavarike • Malayalam: സൊനമുക്കീ Sonnamukki, Nilavaka • Marathi: Bhitarvada, Mulkacha, सोनमुखी Sonamukhi • Sanskrit: स्वर्णपत्री Swarnapatri, भूमिचरी Bhumichari, भूमिवल्ली bhumivalli • Tamil: Alakalam, Alakalampokki, Alakalampokkicceti • Telugu: nelaponna, nelatangedu • Urdu: Sana-e-hind ﺳﻨﺎ ﮨﻨﺪ, Sena-e maki سينامكي
Botanical name: Senna alexandrina    Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Gulmohar family)
Synonyms: Cassia acutifolia, Cassia senna, Senna angustifolia, Cassia angustifolia

Indian Senna is a woody perennial herb, up to 3 ft tall. Flowers are borne in raceme, up to 15 cm long, at branch ends or in leaf axils. Young flowers are covered with about 7-8 mm long cup-shaped bracts. Flower-stalks are 3-4 cm long, sepals 5, nearly equal, 1.0-1.3 cm long, about 6-8 mm broad, spoon shaped or cup shaped, light yellow in colour. Petals are 5, nearly equal, 1.4-1.7 cm long, 7-10 mm wide, obovate, shortly clawed, deep yellow, veins becoming prominent after drying. Stamens are 10, upper 3 reduced to staminodes, rest perfect, 2 lower largest. Ovary is densely hairy, stipitate. Branches are hairless to nearly so. Stipules are lateral, about 1.5 mm long, pointed. Leaves are compound, about 4.5-11.5 cm long, 5-9 pairs of narrow lanceshaped to ovate leaflets, about 1.2-4 cm long, 3.5-10 mm wide. Pods are about 4-5 cm long, about 1.6-2.2 cm broad, sparsely hairy, turning black at maturity, generally 4-10 seeded; stipe 2-3 mm. Indian Senna is found in Sahara & Sahel to the Indian Subcontinent. Flowering: All year.
Medicinal uses: Historically, Senna alexandrina was used in the form of senna pods, or as herbal tea made from the leaves, as a laxative. Modern medicine has used extracts since at least the 1950s as a laxative. If accidentally ingested by infants, it can cause side effects such as severe diaper rash. The active ingredients are several senna glycosides which interact with immune cells in the colon.

Identification credit: S. Kasim Photographed in IIT Campus, Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

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