Plant profile

Family : Leguminosae
English name: Senna
Indian name : Savarnapatri (Sanskrit), Sanay sanna ka patta (Hindi) and Nilaviari or Nelavakai (Tamil).
Species and varieties : Cassia angustifolia vahl, Cassia acutifolia del, Cassia obovata, Cassia italica, Cassia aborate, ALFT-2 and Sona.
Distribution: India, Southern Arabia, Yemen


Senna (Cassia angustifolia Vahl) is a small shrub, a native of Yemen and South Arabia. The leaves and pods contain sennosides used for their laxative was introduced in to Tamil Nadu in the eighteenth century where it grawn as an annual crop of 5 to 7 months duration in 8000 to 10,000 Ha both under rainfed and irrigated condition. Successful cultivation also has been demonstrated in Karnataka (Bangalore ) , Gujrat(Anand) , and Delhi.

A major part of the produce is exported in the form of leaves, pods and sennosides concentrates, of calcium sennosides granules, tablets and syrup of marketing.

Germany, Hungry, Japan, Netherland, and USA are the main market. The export of leaves and pods from India is of the value of Rs 20 million annually.


The compound isolated from Cassia angustifolia leaves are wax, myricycle, and alcohol. The flavinoids , isorhamentin and Kaemferol and anthrax quinine.Rhien and Emodin and Phenolic compound are found.Two glycosides one is easily hydrolysable yielding Emodin and actively cathartic glycosides.


Senna was first used medicinally by Arabian physician in the 9th century AD.In constipation e.g. anal fissure senna is a short term laxative but should not be taken more than 10 days , since this leads to weakening of large bowl muscles.As a catharatic (strong laxative ) senna can causing griping and colic.


Pantropic genus comprising of 500 species of which 20 are found in native flora of India.It is indengeneous to Somalia, southern Arabia, parts of Sindh(Pakistan) and Kutch area of Gujrat.In India it is cultivated in Gujrat, Rajsthan and Tamilnadu.Cassia Angustfolia known as Alexandrian senna is indigenous to Sudan and Sinai.


Tinnevelly senna is mostly cultivated in well ploughed, leveled , rich clayed semi irrigated land.
Pulverization of the soil carried out by the use of plough. First sowing is done February- March, while second in October to November. Before planting prepare the land by plugging, harrowing and being the soil to a fine tilth, apply BHC (10%) or Aldrin(5%) at 25 kg/ha with last operation.
It protects the young seedling from attack of white ants and cut worms.


The seeds are more preferably drilled at a distance of 30 cm in lines, 1.5 to 2.5 cm depth on well prepared land. The seeds can also dibble on the inner sides of the ridges opened at 45 cm distance maintaining a plant to plant spacing of 30 cm. First sowing is done February-March while second is carried out in November to December i.e. after rains. About 15-25 kg of seeds are required per hectare of land seeds are sown thinly.


Senna largely grown in red loams, alluvial loam and rich clay rise fields. The average pH range from 7-8.5 .It is very - very sensitive to water- logging and hence it is grown only in well drained soil.


Farmers of Tamil nadu use 4-5 cartloads (5- 10 t/ha) of well - rotted FYM at the time of sowing. Trials in India have shown that the crop in all , take 50- 100 of N, 20-50 kg of P2O5, and about 30kg of K20 /ha in a growing of 130-150 days.


It can be economically grown under rain fed conditions. For good harvest of senna 5-8 light irrigation are enough. Heavy irrigation is injurious to the crops.


One or two hand weeding followed by howing are necessary to removal of dicot and grassy weeds. First weeding and hawing done at 25-30days second one at 70-80days


Under dry weather the crop of senna have attacks by a pest. High humid conditions the larvae of white butterfly (catopsilia pyranthae) may cause damage. The another pest Pod borer is attack the pods it can be controlled by spraying Endosulohan (0.05%) or carbaryl (0.25%) at interval of 10-15 days. The leaf-spot diseases are caused by the alternaria alternate and Cercospora species, which sever damage to the crop. The spraying of 0.15% Dithane M-45 at fortinightly interval, 3 times a period of 5-6 weeks.The damping off seedlings is the most divesting diseases caused by Rhizoctonia bataticola.


Young senna pods contain a high sennasides content The senna plant produce foliage containing higher sennoside between 50-90days of sowing. The picking is done by hand. So that most of the growing tops are removed at harvest. A second picking is taken at 90-100days and third between 130-150days.The harvested crop should be spread in a thin layer in an open field to reduce moisture.The dry leaf and pods should have a light-green to greenish yellow color.


A good crops of senna can give 15 Q/ha of a dry leaves and 7 Q/ha of pods under irrigated and good management conditions.The yield under rainfed condition is about 10 Q/ha of leaves and 4 Q/ha of pods.


• A text book of Cultivation of Medicinal and Aromatic Crops By A.A.Farooqui And B.S.Sreeramu.
• Text book of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry Part-1 By Vinod D.Rangari.
• Text of Parmacognosy By C.K.Kokate.

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