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.
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).