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Senna obtusifolia is often confused with:
Senna marilandica
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Dianthus armeria Dianthus armeria
Tanacetum vulgare Tanacetum vulgare
Ulmus rubra Tree form (Guilford County, NC)-Mid Summer

Sicklepod Senna obtusifolia

Previously known as:

  • Cassia obtusifolia
  • Cassia tora var. obtusifolia
  • Diallobus tora
Phonetic Spelling
SEN-nuh ob-too-sih-FOH-lee-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Sicklepod is a branched, annual herb in the Fabaceae (bean) family native to the eastern and midwestern US and tropical and subtropical regions in the Americas. It is found naturally in forests or natural areas in open woodlands, or fields though it has been introduced all over the world.  The Latin name for the species obtusifolia comes from the word obtusus which means blunt and folium which means leaf.  

It typically grows to a height and width of 2 to 5 feet.  Bright green leaves are pinnately divided with rounded leaflets that have a point at the tips.  Showy yellow five-petaled flowers appear in the late summer and last into the fall.  They are followed by sickle-shaped bean pods, hence the common name.  It will self-seed easily in the landscape. 

Sicklepod grows best in full sun in moist to slightly dry well-drained soil, though it can grow in the toughest compacted clay or rocky soils. They are disease-resistant and drought tolerant. 

For additional information by the NC State Herbarium see "Poisonous Vascular Plants" (cntrl + F, search for Sicklepod)

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:   It can be weedy in disturbed areas and agricultural sites and is considered a noxious weed in some states.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#drought tolerant#yellow flowers#weedy#disease resistant#self-seeding#disturbed areas#compaction tolerant#clay soils tolerant#malodorous
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#drought tolerant#yellow flowers#weedy#disease resistant#self-seeding#disturbed areas#compaction tolerant#clay soils tolerant#malodorous
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Senna
    Species:
    obtusifolia
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Roasted seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee and the roots, leaves and seeds have been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. In Africa the green leaves are fermented and used as a meat substitute. The seeds are ground and used commercially to produce the food additive cassia gum which acts as a thickener.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern U.S.A., Tropical & Subtropical America
    Edibility:
    Young shoots; only collect plants from areas you know have NOT been treated with pesticides. Gather the young shoots in July or early August. Safe food procedures: soak young shoots in warm water to remove dirt and debris. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. These products can leave a residue. The shoots have an unpleasant odor in its raw state but this disappears after cooking. Boil in salted water for five minutes, pour off this first water and add fresh boiling and salted water. Boil for another eight minutes. Serve as a vegetable.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Weed
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Spreading
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Brown green 4 to 6 inches long, slender (1/4" wide), 4-angled (terete) in cross section, curved into a sickle shape bean pod.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    5 yellow to pale yellow petals, 5 green sepals, 7 stamens with beaked anthers. 5/8" flowers in pairs in the upper leaf axils bloom from late summer to fall
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, pinnately divided, without a conspicuous gland at the base of the leaf stalk; leaflets of 3 pairs and each obovate leaflet is 1.5" long and 1" wide comes to a point at the tip; stipules usually not persistent and not conspicuously striated. Leaves are lighter green underneath, hairless, and have a long petiole and an unpleasant scent.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Light green, slightly ridged
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Compaction
    Diseases
    Drought
    Problems:
    Malodorous
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES ARE EATEN. Diarrhea, tremors, dark brown urine.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Anthraquinones, emodin glycosides, toxalbumins, alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Seeds