Picture of Candle Bush photographed in Masinagudi
Candle Bush adds an interesting character to the landscape with their waxy yellow spikes of flowers that bear a resemblance to candles. It seems to be a tough perennial plant, as it is seen growing in all possible weather conditions up to 25 feet. The botanical name of this plant is Senna Alata and belongs to Caesalpinioideae*. The plant is native to tropical countries and wildly seen in India.
Candle Bush is grown for ornamental, medicinal and cosmetic purposes and can be invasive if left unchecked.
The leaves of this plant are large, evergreen, with compound leaves. The leaves are up to 3 feet in length and fold together in the night. The sulphur caterpillars find the leaves of this plant delicious food. The flowers bloom throughout the year. The flower buds are covered with brown bracts, which fall off when the flower blooms. The flowers attract butterflies, bees and small birds like flower pecker, sun birds and humming birds.
The fruit is a black pod with two broad wings. The fruit stays on the plant for many months. The seeds are small, square and when they rattle in the pod it is the time to sow the seeds.
The leaves contain chrysophanic acid, which acts as a diuretic and purgative. The decoction of the leaves is used to treat bronchitis and asthma. The leaves are also used to treat ringworm and other skin diseases and hence the name ringworm plant has been coined to it.
The plant is popular in the cosmetics manufacturing units because of its anti-fungal properties. It is one of the main ingredients in soaps, shampoos, and lotions in the country of islands – Philippines.
Caesalpinioideae* is a botanical name at the rank of subfamily, placed in the large family Fabaceae (Gulmohar tree) or Leguminosae. Its name is formed from the generic name Caesalpinia. The Caesalpinioideae are mainly trees distributed in the moist tropics. Their flowers are zygomorphic (“yoke shaped”, “bilateral”).