Time of bloom: July to August.
Seed-time: August to September.
Range: Virginia to Indiana and southward to the Gulf of Mexico.
Habitat: Meadows and pastures, waste places.
Like the Partridge Pea and the Wild Senna, this weed is strongly cathartic, and its young shoots, when harvested with hay greatly damage the quality, as animals feeding on it are subject to "scours." The plant is an immigrant from tropical America, and seems to have become acclimated during its slow northward march.
Stems erect, smooth, light green, much branched, and three to six feet tall. Leaves pinnately compound with four to six pairs of smooth, long-pointed, ovate leaflets, one to two inches long; the slender petioles are lighter than the leaflets, and near the base of each is an egg-shaped, brownish yellow gland. Flowers in short, branching, axillary clusters; each blossom about a half-inch broad, with five spreading yellow petals more nearly equal than those of the perennial Wild Senna; ten brown anthers, the upper three of which are dwarfed and imperfect; calyx-lobes oblong, obtuse. Pods smooth and slender, slightly curved, four to six inches long and about a quarter-inch wide, with thickened border; each contains about a dozen small brown seeds, which retain their vitality in the soil for at least two years and probably longer. (Fig. 157.)
Fig. 157. - Coffee Senna (Cassia occidentalis). X 1/3.
Prevent seed production by early and persistent cutting throughout the growing season, treating the shorn surfaces with salt for the discouragement of new growth. For small areas, newly infested, hand-pulling is a paying process.