Tirunelveli Senna   
Foto info
Tirunelveli Senna
ative Photo: S. Kasim
Common name: Tirunelveli Senna, Egyptian Senna, Tinnevelly Senna, East Indian Senna • Hindi: bhuikhakhasa • Kannada: nelavare, nelavarike, sonamukhi • Malayalam: nilavaka • Marathi: bhitarvada, mulkacha, shonamakhi, सोनमुखी sonamukhi • Sanskrit: bhumiari, bhumichari, भूमिवल्ली bhumivalli • Tamil: alakalam, alakalampokki, alakalampokkicceti • Telugu: nelaponna, nelatangedu • Urdu: sana-e-hind, sana-e-makki
Botanical name: Senna alexandrina    Family: Caesalpiniaceae (Gulmohar family)
Synonyms: Senna angustifolia, Senna acutifolia, Cassia angustifolia

Tirunelveli Senna is a shrubby plant that reaches 0.5-1 m, rarely 2 m in height with a branched, pale-green erect stem and long spreading branches bearing four or five pairs of leaves. These leaves form complex, feathery, mutual pairs. The leaflets vary from 4 to 6 pairs, entire, with a sharp tip. The midribs are equally divided at the base of the leaflets. The flowers are borne in a raceme, and are big in size, coloured yellow that tends to brown. Its pods are horned, broadly oblong, compressed and flat and contain about six seeds. When cultured, the plants are cut down semi-annually, dried in the sun, stripped and packed in palm-leaf bags.
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 at Valliyur, Tamilnadu.

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