Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Easter Cassia (Senna pendula) is an upright sprawling shrub that grows from 2 to 4 m that is native to tropical South America.
  • Easter Cassia is fast growing and sprawls over other vegetation.
  • It establishes in disturbed urban bushland, farmland, roadsides and the banks of watercourses.
  • It suppresses and displaces native species.
  • It can be controlled by physical or chemical means.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Easter Cassia (Senna pendula) is an upright, spreading or sprawling shrub usually growing 2–4 m tall, but occasionally reaching up to 5 m. The stems are multi-branched and become woody with age. Younger stems are green and sparsely hairy, but become hairless and darker as they mature. The compound leaves (leaves divided into leaflets) are 4–8 cm long and are alternately arranged along the stems and borne on stalks 20–40 mm long. Each leaf is composed of 3–6 pairs of dark green leaflets with rounded tips. These leaflets are egg-shaped to oval, 10–50 mm long and 5–20 mm wide, with those closer to the stem generally being smaller. They are almost hairless and have a prominent lighter coloured middle vein. There is a small cone shaped gland between the two lowest leaflets of each leaf.

The pea-like flowers are bright yellow, about 30 mm across, with five large petals that are 20–25 mm long. They are borne in clusters at the tips of the branches, and each has a stalk about 20–30 mm long. These flowers have two or three prominent curved stamens (male organs consisting of a pollen bearing anther and a filament or stalk), four or five smaller stamens, and as well as three tiny petal-like structures at their centres.

The fruits are cylindrical pods that hang downwards and are 10–20 cm long and 6–12 mm wide. These pods turn from green to pale brown as they mature, contain 5–40 black seeds, and often have irregular constrictions (Navie 2004).

For further information and assistance with identification of Easter Cassia, contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Easter Cassia is a weed of waterways, gardens, disturbed sites, waste areas, roadsides, closed forests, forest margins and urban bushland in tropical, subtropical and warmer temperate regions (Navie 2004).

Are there similar species?

Easter Cassia is very similar to Smooth Senna (Senna floribunda) and relatively similar to Sicklepod (S. obtusifolia), Java Bean (S. tora), Hairy Senna (S. hirsuta), Coffee Senna (S. occidentalis), Arsenic Bush (S. planitiicola), Pepper-leaved Senna (S. barclayana), Candle Bush (S. alata) and Popcorn Senna (S. didymobotrya). These species can be distinguished by the following differences:

Easter Cassia can be distinguished by its leaflets which have rounded tips and in particular its prominent yellowish coloured edges which none of the other species possess. Its flowers are borne in relatively loose leafy clusters and its straight, hairless and elongated (10-20 cm long) pods are almost rounded in cross-section. Smooth Senna, Hairy Senna, Coffee Senna, Arsenic Bush and Pepper-leaved Senna all have leaflets with pointed tips (acute apices).

Sicklepod and Java Bean have flowers that are borne in pairs in the leaf forks and very elongated pods that are almost rounded in cross-section. These pods are curved downwards and are sickle-shaped and mostly hairless. Candle Bush has flowers that are borne in relatively dense elongated clusters and are initially concealed by large yellow floral bracts (modified leaves). The very large elongated pods (15-25 cm long) are four-angled in cross-section and winged. These pods are straight and are mostly hairless. Popcorn Senna has flowers borne in relatively dense elongated clusters (racemes) which are initially concealed underneath large purplish brown floral bracts. The relatively large pods (7-12 cm long) are flattened and mostly hairless (Navie 2004).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Native ecosystems: Easter Cassia is a fast growing plant which often becomes established by exploiting gaps in vegetation and climbing over the adjacent canopy, suppressing the growth of native species and displacing them. It can become naturalised in highly disturbed urban bushland and farmland, primarily along roadsides and the banks of watercourses (PIER 2003).

How does it spread?

Easter Cassia is dispersed by seed. Seed production is prolific and the long lived seeds are transported by water and soil movement (PIER 2003).

What is its history in Australia?

Easter Cassia was probably introduced to Australia as a garden specimen (Randell & Barlow 1998). There is a herbarium record from Cobar, New South Wales in 1911 (National Herbarium of New South Wales 2008).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Easter Cassia can be controlled by physical or chemical methods. 

Chemical control: Larger plants can be cut and the stumps treated with herbicide. Foliar applications of herbicides are most effective on seedlings and on fresh regrowth (PIER 2003).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au

Non-chemical control: Manual control: Small individual plants can be removed by hand pulling, particularly in moist soil but care must be taken to remove the roots and consider applying mulch to discourage regrowth (QLD DAF 2020). Larger plants may be dug out with a mattock or similar garden tool and the whole crown must be removed for the achievement of long term control (QLD DAF 2020).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Easter Cassia flowers throughout the year, but flowering is most prevalent during autumn, around Easter (Navie 2004). Seed production is prolific and seeds are long lived (PIER 2003)

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Easter Cassia is a widely distributed species that has mainly become naturalised in the eastern parts of Australia. It is most common in the coastal and sub-coastal regions of south-eastern Queensland and New South Wales. It is also present in other parts of Queensland and is recorded in Victoria and South Australia (Navie 2004; AVH 2008).

Where does it originate?

Easter Cassia is native to tropical South America (Navie 2004).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Senna pendula

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Cassia, Senna, Winter Senna

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