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PlantFiles: Christmas Senna, Winter Cassia
Senna bicapsularis

Family: Caesalpiniaceae (ses-al-pin-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Senna (SEN-nuh) (Info)
Species: bicapsularis (by-kap-soo-LAIR-iss) (Info)

Synonym:Cassia bicapsularis
Synonym:Cassia berteroi
Synonym:Adipera bicapsularis
Synonym:Cassia emarginata
Synonym:Cassia limensis

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

41 members have or want this plant for trade.


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Fall/Early Winter


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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14 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive gtbabic On Sep 18, 2014, gtbabic from The Villages, FL wrote:

Region 9A, cut it back to about 6 feet in mid-summer after it grew a bit too tall, but feared I might have cut off blooming stems. Not to worry - as of mid-September, it is again filled with the big yellow flowers that will last through frost. Although it is a bit boring during summer, sitting there all green while everything else is in color. now it is a show-stopper as the annuals and perennials are giving up the ghost. With the pruning, I have kept it to about 8 feet tall. Of course,it is great for the butterflies.

Positive Lmaris On Sep 16, 2014, Lmaris from Mission Bend, TX wrote:

I bought two of these trees 18 months ago (March 2013), and each was about 20" tall. Within 6 months, they were 6' tall and the trunks 1.5" thick. By 10 months, they had reached 8' and very bushy.

Late in September 2013, the trees started to produce a ton of buds at the end of every branch and twig. In mid October, the blooms started to open. Blooming lasted well into January.

We had 4 hard freezes the winter of 2013-2014 in Houston, but these young trees barely lost a leaf even without protection

Sulfer butterflies love them, and hummingbirds seem to be nesting in the folliage. More hang out in this tree, even without blossoms, than any tree or shrub in my yard.

After the first year, I have given very little supplemental water, and these trees don't seem to mind. Their leaves fold up to minimized water loss when really dry, but pop back open when they get a drink.

I trim off the lower branches, so the have a small broad tree form, between 10-12 feet tall. They can also be kept as large shrubs with little to no effort.

I cannot recommend this tree/shrub highly enough.

Positive UrbanJungleMiami On Oct 3, 2013, UrbanJungleMiami from Cutler, FL wrote:

Cassia Bicapsularis Christman Cassia was recommended to me a super butterfly gardener in Fort Lauderdale. The seeds are very hard to find.

Apparently vendors are pretty much afraid to sell this seed.

From the seeds I bought from the vendor who I wil leave un named, 3 plants survived and we have 3 nice christmas cassia trees on the small side. I hope they bloom this winter and give us seed. I think I have the correct plant because we have seen catapillars on the plants.

Positive chavateach On Jun 28, 2013, chavateach from Palm Harbor, FL wrote:

This is one of my favorite plants in my garden, here in Palm Harbor, FL. I love the beautiful shape of the tree, how the leaves close up and "go to sleep" at night. The butterflies it attracts are wonderful, but best of all are the showy, gorgeous yellow flowers when it blooms. I can't begin to tell you how many people have stopped and asked about it. I have cut stalks with blooms, to show in arrangements in my home, they are delightful. I am going to try to propagate my Cassia with cuttings, as I am moving and want to take a smaller version potted with me. Not sure how many years I have had this, been in this home for 16 years and I think I bought it about 10+ years ago. If you love yellow flowers, beautifully shaped trees, sleepy leaves, then enjoy this amazing tree.

Negative sunnydaze45 On Dec 6, 2011, sunnydaze45 from Mesa, AZ wrote:

I bought this plant four years ago at a big box store in the month of December. It was covered with beautiful flowers. That was the last time it had flowers. The leaves aren't ugly, but I didn't buy it for it's leaves. I've thought about pulling it up, but I don't have the heart to kill it. I keep thinking it will reward my patience, but so far it has failed me.

Positive ThomPotempa On Dec 10, 2010, ThomPotempa from Houston, TX wrote:

Yes it does have to be watched about taking over... but this is sort of the idea where it is planted in my garden, trying to do something in the former kingdom of bermuda grass...

My favorite flower. Have 3 of them. They stayed green through the freeze last winter and have required no water this drought summer.

Neutral abken On Oct 27, 2009, abken from New Orleans, LA wrote:

Easy, vigorous growth, but beware....This plant will take over if it's happy. I've known it to tightly bind shutters to the owner's second story by interlacing its growth through the slats and to block a neighbor's access to her shed door as it spilled over the fence. Do not turn your back on it.

Positive fullsun007 On Jul 25, 2009, fullsun007 from Gainesville, FL wrote:

The winter cassia is a great plant for the fall garden in zones 8 or higher, when many other plants are winding down this guy just releases a mass of blooms from October through first frost. The 1" flowers have an orchid like appearance. The plant is the host plant for Sulphur butterflies. It performs best when in good sun. I prune mine to a height of 3 feet each spring and by the fall they are 12 feet tall, a good choice for a nice splash of color.

Neutral iodice On Apr 13, 2009, iodice from Moss Point, MS wrote:

I planted three last year in zone 8b, they grew fast (now 8' tall) but tropical storm blew all the leaves off and they grew back, winter frost knocked all the leaves off (not grown back yet). It didn't bloom last year (first year in ground) and I don't know if I should cut it back this spring or wait for it to bloom on existing trunk and stems.

Neutral Lily_love On Nov 29, 2008, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

This Senna blooms late in the season, hence is sometimes called 'Christmas Senna'.

This plant is used as herbaceous perennial here in my garden, some years, like this year the flowers were late in the season, thus none were pollinated in time for seeds.

The plant can temporarily tolerate mild frost in early winters. It's a hostplant for sulpher butterflies.

Positive CBernard On Apr 9, 2008, CBernard from Perris, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I was given a few of these seeds in December 2006. I transplanted two of these plants and kept one in a pot. The two that are planted are now four feet high. The one in the pot just started blooming in March 2008. Beautiful plants!!

Just as an update on my Senna bicapsularis, I gave the blooming senna to a friend who is an expert in getting the plant to grow. The two I planted still haven't bloomed but they are now ten feet tall and a beautiful shrub planted next to each other. I can hardly wait for them to bloom so I can see what butterflies and insects are attracted to them in our area.



Positive WebInt On Oct 15, 2007, WebInt from Vista, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Just when your SoCal garden is starting to expire and head into the winter funk, this plant flowers and warms up the garden. It is attractive even not in flower and can be trained into a small tree to about 10 - 15 feet tall. Mine seems to always have the pesky Argentine Ants on it and I need to use snail poison three times a year as slugs will invade it and destroy all new growth in the course of a few days. Other then the fact it does 'weed', I still find this plant to be well worth it in the garden. Depending on the plant it can flower from late September well into November.

Positive natrgrl On Mar 12, 2007, natrgrl from Abita Springs, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Hi from natrgrl in zone 8b Abita Springs, La.

My Mother had to have this plant, so for a couple of hours
she and I drove around to every yard where I could remember seeing one trying to gather info to find out what type of plant this was. We did not succeed in finding out, however God is good and as we drove home we spotted them passing by a nursery on the way. Both of us purchased the plant. I actually like to see them grown like a tree as they are very unique looking. My Mom planted hers immediately because she is very diligent in these ways, I am not. So my little tree stayed in it's pot for quite a long time I'm ashamed to say. Truly I thought I had killed it. Winter had made all of its leaves fall off and it was rather cold out, so no I didn't even water it. I would not suggest making this poor plant suffer that way but for anyone considering one who may be worried about its survival let me assure you they are quite the survivors. I'm happy to say my tree is planted and thriving I can't wait for the butterflies and I'm thinking of getting one more, that I promise to plant immediately!

Positive artcons On Oct 21, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I have two growing in the yard for three years now. One on the NE corner, the other in the SW corner. Both plants are about 8-9 ft tall. They are low maintenance bushes with the beautiful yellow flowers providing winter interest. They bloom from November to early January.

A favorite larvae plant of sulphur and white butterflies. An oddity with the sulphur caterpillars that feed on the leaves from this plant. In the spring through early fall these cats are green and black. In the late fall when the plants are blooming the cats become yellow and black because they then eat the yellow flowers instead of the leaves.

In zone 10 I have not found a single offshoot of these plants anywhere in the yard.

In my pictured plant it's shown proped up. It has been replanted twice this year due to being blown over by storms Katrina and Wilma.

An interesting note to this plant is it attracts just about everything that flies, crawls, lands or rests in my yard. It's a bee hive of insect and bird activety all year round. Some of the strange things I see around the flowers are bright colored bees about 3/8 to 1/2 inch long. They have iridescent colors of green or blue or a goldish color bodies. They stop dead in mid flight and check out the flowers then zoom to another flower again stop dead in the air...seemingly suspended by thread. Occasionally I actually think they are looking directly at me. They are amazing to watch.

Positive JaxFlaGardener On Apr 13, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant was not doing well in my garden until I moved it to an area of full sun. It then grew to a height of about 6 ' in one season. I have interplanted it with Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomania capensis). These two plants have a similar growth habit and bloom just about simultaneously in the Fall in my climate. The mixture of the Senna's bright yellow with the bright orange of the Tecomania creates a very attractive color combination!

Positive Kameha On Apr 12, 2005, Kameha from Kissimmee, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Beautiful yellow orchid-like flowers in fall and winter. Grows like a weed, even if killed by a freeze it will flower by next fall. It attracts sulfur butterflies to lay their eggs on the foliage. The caterpillars feed on the leaves. This leguminous tree also has another interesting feature-its leaves fold in at night and are even more attractive in my opinion. You can actually watch it slowly fold in its leaves at sunset.

Neutral Xuziqueue On Jul 21, 2003, Xuziqueue from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

Although the Christmas Senna is indeed beautiful in bloom, I find that it propagates too easily by seed. I have large patches of seedlings growing in various spots of my yard, too numerous to pull out unless I had hours of idle time on my hands. I am contemplating getting rid of this plant. I just have to decide which I prefer more: the cloudless sulphur butterflies it attracts and its beautiful yellow canopy or not finding it growing in thousands of places in my yard.

Positive lilyb On Nov 20, 2002, lilyb from Brunswick, GA wrote:

Senna bicapsularis is a fall bloomer

Positive FLSuncoast On Aug 22, 2002, FLSuncoast from Sarasota, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

The flowers are also very attractive to bees and butterflies. The plant, a member of the Royal Poinciana family, can be found in almost all the tropical areas of the world. The tree can be kept as a potted specimen with judicious pruning. Makes an excellent small specimen for limited-space areas such as street sides or parking lots.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Scottsdale, Arizona
Aptos, California
Camarillo, California
Castro Valley, California
Cerritos, California
Long Beach, California
Mission Viejo, California
Perris, California (2 reports)
Temecula, California
Valley Center, California
Vista, California
Walnut Creek, California
Auburndale, Florida
Bartow, Florida (2 reports)
Bradley, Florida
Brooksville, Florida (2 reports)
Chiefland, Florida
Crawfordville, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Havana, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Indialantic, Florida
Inverness, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lady Lake, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
Miami, Florida (2 reports)
Mulberry, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida (2 reports)
Niceville, Florida
Odessa, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Palm Harbor, Florida
Pensacola, Florida (2 reports)
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Wauchula, Florida
Wellborn, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
Carrollton, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Patterson, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Abita Springs, Louisiana
Independence, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Moss Point, Mississippi
Bluffton, South Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Seabrook, South Carolina
West Columbia, South Carolina
Austin, Texas
Baytown, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Hallettsville, Texas
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
Humble, Texas
La Porte, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Orange, Texas (2 reports)
San Antonio, Texas
Spring, Texas

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