This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(ancient Greek name). Leguminosae. Senna. Herbs, shrubs or trees, a few of which are in cultivation in America, as border plants and under glass.
Leaves even-pinnate: flowers nearly regular (not papilionaceous), with the nearly equal calyx-teeth mostly longer than the tube; corolla of 5 spreading, nearly equal clawed spreading petals; stamens 5-10, frequently unequal and some of the anthers abortive, the good anthers opening at the top: fruit a stalked pod which is either flat or terete, containing numerous seeds and often partitioned crosswise. - Species nearly or quite 400 in the warmer parts of the globe, some of them in cool temperate regions. See page 3566.
The cassias delight in a sunny exposure. Most of those cultivated in the United States are herbs or herb-like shrubs, attractive for the finely cut foliage and the showy flowers. Some of them are cultivated only in the extreme South. C. corymbosa is probably the best garden subject. Cassias are summer bloomers, for the most part. Propagation is mostly by divisions and seeds, the annual species always by seeds.
Senna leaves, used in medicine as a cathartic, are derived from various species, chiefly from C. acutifolia of Egypt, and C. angustifolia of India and other Old World tropics. The "Cassia lignea" of pharmacopceas is the product of a Cinnamomum. Cassia pods of commerce, used in medicine, are the fruits of C. Fistula. Many of the species contribute to therapeutics. Some of them provide tanning materials.
A. Hardy border plants: Ifts. 5 or more pairs.
Linn. Wild Senna. Perennial, glabrous or nearly so, stems nearly simple: leaflets 5-10 pairs, oblong or lance-oblong and entire, short-acuminate or nearly obtuse: flowers in axillary racemes near the tops of the stems and often appearing as if panicled, bright yellow, wide open: pods linear, flat. New England, west and south, mostly in wet soil. - Grows 3-4 ft. high, and has attractive light green foliage.
Chamaecrista, Linn. (Chamaecrista nictitans, Moench). Partridge Pea. Annual, erect or spreading, 2 ft. or less high: leaflets 10-15 pairs, small, narrow-oblong, mucronate, sensitive to the touch: flowers large, 2-5 together in the axils, canary-yellow and 2 of the petals purple-spotted. - Dry soil, Maine, south and west. Sometimes known as Magothy Bay bean and sensitive pea, and formerly recommended as a green-manuring plant. See Cyclo. Amer. Agric, Vol. II, p. 309, for account and picture.
aa. Tender plants, grown far south, or under glass: leaflets few or many.
B. Tree, with woody indehiscent pods.
Fistula, Linn. Pudding-Pipe Tree. Golden Shower. Leaves large, the leaflets 4-8 pairs, and ovate-acuminate: flowers in long lax racemes, yellow, the pedicels without bracts: pods cylindrical, black, 3-furrowed, 1-2 ft. long, containing 1-seeded compartments. India, but introduced in W. Indies and other tropical countries. Sparingly cultivated S. - Furnishes the cassia pods of commerce.
Linn. Pink Shower. leaflets 10-20, oblong, abrupt at either end, more or less pubescent beneath and above: flowers in long drooping axillary racemes, roso-colored, without bracts subtending the pedicels: pod 3 in. or less long, compressed-cylindrical, glabrous, transversely rugose. tropical Amer.; offered in S. Calif., and grown in many tropical countries.
bb. Shrubs or herbs, with more or less dehiscent pods. Sophera, Linn. (C. schinifblia, DC. C. Sophbra, Auth.). Shrub, 6-10 ft.: leaflets 6-iO pairs, lanceolate-acute: flowers yellow on many-flowered axillary and terminal peduncles, which are shorter than the leaves: pod thin, tardily dehiscent. Oriental tropics. Intro, in S. Calif.
Lam. (C. floribunda, Hort.). Shrub, half-hardy in middle states, 4-10 ft.: leaflets 3 pairs, oblong-lanceolate and somewhat falcate, obtuse or nearly so: flowers yellow, in long-stalked, small axillary and terminal corymbs. Argentina. B.M. 633. G.C. III. 31:252. Gn. 50, p. 139. J.H. III. 61:139. G. 25:553. H.F. II. 3:252. G.W. 3, p. 421; 6, p. 391. - The best-known -garden species, being an excellent conservatory plant for spring, summer and autumn bloom. It is an old favorite, now coming again into prominence (as C. floribunda and variety A. Boehm, corrupted apparently into C. Boema) as a pot-plant, as a tub specimen for lawns, or for plunging in the border; winters readily in a dormant state in a cellar; very free-flowering.
Linn. Shrub, 10-12 ft.: leaflets 6-8 pairs, oval-oblong and obtuse white-tomentose beneath: flowers deep yellow. Mex. - Said to be a good winter bloomer in S. Calif., and naturalized in some parts.
Gaud. Bushy shrub, soft-canescent and gray all over: leaflets 3-4 pairs, very narrow-linear: racemes axillary, 5-8-flowered, the flowers sulfur-yellow: pods flat, shining brown. Austral. - Intro, in S. Calif. Withstands drought.
Linn. Shrub, 4-8 ft.: leaflets 6-10 pairs, broad-oblong or obovate-oblong, very obtuse but mucronu-late: flowers large, yellow, on 2-4-flowered peduncles, which are shorter than the lvs: pod 3 in. or less long, oblong-linear or narrower, membranaceous. S. Amer. and W. Indies. B.M. 810. - Sparingly cult, in greenhouses.
C. laevigata, Willd. Shrub, glabrous: leaflets 3-4 pairs, ovate-oblong or ovate-lanceolate, acuminate: flowers yellow in terminal and axillary racemes: pod leathery, 2-3 in. long, nearly cylindrical. Tropics. - C. occidentalis, Linn. Hedionda. Annual or siibshrubby, widely distributed in the tropics as a weed, the seeds used as a substitute for coffee; it is the "fedegosa" and "negro coffee" of Africa: leaflets 4-12 pairs, ovate-lanceolate or lanceolate, acuminate, and a gland near the base of the petiole: racemes short and few-fid.: pod glabrous, oblong-linear compressed or nearly cylindrical; the small seeds produced abundantly-C. splendida, Vogel. Shrub, 6-10 ft., much branched: flowers bright yellow, very large. S. Amer. Recently catalogued in S. Calif. - Others of the numerous species of Cassia are likely to appear in cultivation, particularly some of the native kinds; but as a whole, the genus is not rich in horticultural subjects.
L. H. B