Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Candle Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Candletree, Candelabra Bush, Ringworm Tree, Candlestick Cassia
Senna alata

Family: Caesalpiniaceae (ses-al-pin-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Senna (SEN-nuh) (Info)
Species: alata (a-LAY-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Cassia alata
Synonym:Cassia bracteata
Synonym:Cassia herpetica
Synonym:Herpetica alata

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

83 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 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

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
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:
By dividing the rootball
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

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

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By Floridian
Thumbnail #1 of Senna alata by Floridian

By mystic
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By TamiMcNally
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There are a total of 56 photos.
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17 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative JohnGEarth On Oct 12, 2012, JohnGEarth from Mackay
Australia wrote:

While the plant may be a lovely garden ornamental it is an environmental weed outside its natural range. I have just discovered it in the Australian bush (Magnetic Island, Townsville) taking over from the natural vegetation. It will be 'eradicated' in the near future.

Positive donnacreation On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I started 12 of these plants from seed back in April. I don't think it's root hardy here, but they grow so quickly from seed it doesn't matter. I have one that's already over 8' tall w/4' limbs. I'm having issues with them falling over, and have staked several. A beautiful plant that I think will self seed in zone 8a.

Neutral plantawaysue On May 30, 2010, plantawaysue from Vero Beach, FL wrote:

What does the root system of this plant look like ?

Positive mjsponies On Dec 3, 2009, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I received this as a seedling in a plant trade. Was amazed at how easily it grew and thrived, growing at least 6 feet in 6 months, and producing those wonderful yellow blooming "candles".
A host plant for the Cloudless Sulpher butterflies, it can get ratty looking when the caterpillars are enjoying it too, but then, that's why I grow most of what I do, to bring the butterflies and hummers in. The plant recovers nicely, as mother nature has a way of letting the butterflies know when they need to look for a new food source. ( they will only lay so many eggs on a plant before looking for a new plant). Mine's producing seed pods now, so hope to collect as I never did get cuttings taken and we can get hard freezes here...( some years we do ~~~ some years we don't) anyway I'll plant again.

Positive Xeramtheum On Jul 6, 2009, Xeramtheum from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Super easy to grow from seed and seeds stay viable for years. It is a hard coat so you need to nick it and plant to depth of seed. I use cuticle scissors and cut a sliver off of one edge and it will germinates in just a few days.

Plants grown from seed will bloom in the first year. Plants I started from seed in March and transplanted into the ground at the end of May are already over 8 feet tall and starting to bud, which works out 6 months from seed to flower. I feed mine with an all purpose fertilizer once a week or every two weeks.

Positive htop On Mar 14, 2009, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Candle Bush (Senna alata) is native to the Amazon Rainforest and can be found in Peru, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and Colombia. It has been cultivated around the world as an ornamental plant and has naturalized in many tropical regions including tropical Africa, tropical Asia, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, Melanesia, Polynesia, and the USA (Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). In Texas, it can be found naturalized in The following counties: Harris, Jeff Davis, Travis. An evergreen shrub or small tree in frost free locations, it is often grown as an annual in cooler climates. When it doesn't get frozen back, Senna alata can grow up to 30 ft (10 m) tall and 15 ft (3 m) wide. Butterflies love the blooms.

Positive BrugDatLvr On Jul 31, 2008, BrugDatLvr from Sanford, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Can be propagated via softwood/hardwood cuttings. Roots and grows amazingly fast. 6" cutting from local plant swap is now 6.5ft tall by 7ft spread, very well branched, all in just 2 months. Has become one of my all time favorites. Just need to see how cold hardy she will be in Zone 9B.

Positive Bairie On Jun 18, 2008, Bairie from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

I love this beautiful plant--my mother had one. I need plants for cut flowers for the tables in out healthy food cafe. Do these flowers last at least 2 days when cut?

Positive bsharf On Aug 10, 2007, bsharf from Palm Coast, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is used as a background scrub in the butterfly garden at the Palm Coast Public Library. Such a dramatic plant.

Positive aprilwillis On Sep 14, 2006, aprilwillis from Missouri City, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Host plant for Cloudless Sulpher butterflies & thus Cats; hummingibrds also love it. Bees and wasps/hornets are attracted to it. It can be a bit messy w/ multifple petals falling & multiple seed pods. You can cut it back or prune as necessary and this tree continues to thrive and bloom all season long.

Positive gbodd On Jul 24, 2006, gbodd from Rockport, TX wrote:

I grew this in Ft. Worth, Texas as well as down here in Holiday Beach, Tx. I have found in the past and present that if the temperature is going down to freezing or cold enough to kill the Candle Bush, I will immediately cut it down and heavily mulch for the winter; of course making sure it is damp after mulching. Much success with it regrowing when the warmth of Spring comes around. In South Texas, I have noticed that the Cut Ants love to devour it over night where you have nothing left except sticks. Though, it will regrow once it is through pouting. Wonderful border bush at fences that creates privacy.

Positive budgielover On Jul 10, 2005, budgielover from Pinellas Park, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I love my cassia alata. Grows great every year and now has a trunk like a small tree. Will brown if hit by frost but comes right back.
No problems with volunteer seedlings if you remove the pods before splitting open. Very attractive to butterflies. Also attracts fire ants but better on the plant than all over the yard. I grow it away from the house.

Positive seedlng On Jun 29, 2005, seedlng from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

zone 10 --- Cypress Creek : Florida

Grows very well in tropical southeast Florida
Can be invasive from volunteer seedlings.
just pluck the seedlings from ground and throw away or plant

very easy to grow.
butterflies, birds love this plant.

Summer I group of 3 for hurricane protection, in the front yard... also for its flowering accent and tropical look.
Since it grows so well and fast.

NOTE: during the legendary 4 hurricane season hit we had in 2004. It was this plant that took the brunt of the wind an
debri and the house was saved. the plant looked shredded like shredded papers..but after pruning out the wind burnt leaves it grew back and flowered immediately.

Most folks only know it looks nice and do not ask about it when I replace it in the bedding with bright fresh planting of impatiens.

Winter --- I throw it away.

I keep a hedge in back yard (all year long ) so I can plant more when i want to. I collect fresh seeds all the time so I do not run low or out... ya neva kno.....????

I keep a hedge in a corner where it is prunned to be 8-10 feet tall, looks nice and green all year,

NOTE: it slows down and hates the cold, if close to 30 --water soil to keep roots well watered and insulated..... I make sure i keep my hedge well watered in cold temps under or clsoe to 30, because i have read it will die at freezing.

it grows that easy here.

its better than ficus and cheaper.. and not less invasive if you know what you are doing....

makes a nice container hedge row as well.. try it, you'll see.

Positive tremax On Feb 7, 2005, tremax from Delray Beach, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:


Positive baallead On Dec 8, 2004, baallead from koh maak
Thailand wrote:

Synonym: herpetic alata.
Common name: fleur palmiste, fleur dartre, candlestick senna, wild senna, ringworm cassia, guajava, ketepeng badak, flor del Secreto, Tarantana, candle bush, akapulko, man-slabriki, akapulco, gelenggang.
Family: caesalpinaceae (caesalpinia family).

This plant, a 6 - 25 feet tall, perennial shrub, has erect waxy yellow spikes that resemble fat candles before the individual blossoms open.
The large leaves are bilateral - symetrical opposed and fold together at night.
The fruit is a pod, while the seeds are small and square.
Wild senna is indigenous to Suriname and it is found in secondary vegetation or along riverbanks or moist and even wet spots.
It is also a host plant to many species of sulphur caterpillars, included the orange barred sulphure.
Guajava is a fast grower and will flower in the first year.
The leaves have laxative properties and can be effective as such.
Ringworm cassia also has antimicrobial - and antifungus activity and can be used against dermatophyte infections such as tidea pedis (athlete's foot).

Pharmacology: contains the phytochemicals antraquinone compound
(e.g. dianthrone qlycosides) and flavonoids.

In Suriname's traditional medicine, the leaves of this plant are used in the treatment of ringworm, the seeds as an anthelmintic while the roots can be used against uterus disorders. The crushed leaves are used for skin infections.

Positive ruthm On Nov 12, 2004, ruthm from Dayton, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant grows very well here. If you cut the seed pods off when the dry, you will have a second smaller bloom. I cut several limbs on put them in water trying to save the yellow sulfer caterpillars from the lizards. It has remained green and growing in a jar of water for 3 weeks. Beautiful addition to the landscape especially when paired with the blue Philipine violet.

Positive Monocromatico On Feb 1, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I found this plant growing on a genuine "restinga" environment - near the sea, on white sand, under full sun and regular rains. It seems a quite though plant to me.

It is part a creeping woody plant, part an erect shrub that doesnt get very tall. The flower spikes are great, with round yellow flowers, and floral buds protected by bright yellow bracts. Bumblebees like them, specially.

Neutral nipajo On Sep 3, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I live in Dallas, Texas (U.S.), and had two Candle Trees on either side of an arbor. They did nicely and even bloomed for me. But when winter came they died and did not return. Two years later, I've noticed seedlings all over the place; I have planted several in pots to see if these are the Candle Crees or just some weed. They have the nice fronds and look very delicate.

Positive ButterflyGardnr On Sep 2, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is a very fast grower--I bought it in a 1 gal. pot at about 3 feet tall. It grew to about 5 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide the first year. It froze back to the ground in the winter. I cut the branches all back to the ground this spring and it resprouted very nicely. This year (yr. 2) it is already almost double the size it was last year--it's around 10 feet tall and about 8 feet wide.

The blooms are clear, bright yellow spikes. It's a sulphur caterpillar larval food plant, which is why I planted it. I have watched sulphur butterflies lay eggs on the plant, but with all the ants on it (mainly carpenter ants), the cats never seem to make it. All the ants would be the only negative I have seen about it at this point. Supposedly it self-seeds readily, but I have not had a problem at all with that. I tried to remove seed pods as they developed last year. It's going to be harder to do that this year due to the height.

Positive TamiMcNally On Sep 29, 2002, TamiMcNally from Lake Placid, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Fast grower; dies back after frost and the entire plant turns black, but it grows back in spring.

Attracts fire ants - so be careful when cutting blooms, tranplanting, etc.

Native to Hawaii

Neutral mystic On Aug 9, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This attractive shrub is named for its flower buds which grow in a column and look like fat yellow candles each complete with a flame! Can be grown as a cultivated shrub or small tree to 25 feet tall.

It's evergreen, with compound leaves that are up to 3 feet long and have 20 leaflets. The leaves fold together at night. Blooms are erect spikes of waxy, golden flowers. The flowers are buds covered with orange bracts which fall off when the flower opens.

The fruit is a black pod with two broad wings; seeds are small, square and they rattle in the pod when ripe. A host plant to many species of sulphur caterpillars.


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

, (2 reports)
Santa Maria La Carità,
Florala, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)
Hermitage, Arkansas
Peel, Arkansas
Chowchilla, California
Palm Desert, California
San Diego, California
Tulare, California
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Belleview, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida (2 reports)
Brooksville, Florida
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Deerfield Beach, Florida
Deland, Florida
Deltona, Florida (2 reports)
Dunnellon, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fountain, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Kissimmee, Florida (2 reports)
Melbourne, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Miami, Florida
North Palm Beach, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Orlando, Florida (3 reports)
Palm Coast, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Perry, Florida
Pinellas Park, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Port Richey, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Satellite Beach, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Wauchula, Florida
Wellborn, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Cordele, Georgia
Patterson, Georgia
Valdosta, Georgia (2 reports)
Chicago, Illinois
Decorah, Iowa
Barksdale Afb, Louisiana
Hammond, Louisiana
Keatchie, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Youngsville, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Brandon, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Anderson, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Baytown, Texas (2 reports)
Brownsville, Texas
Canyon Lake, Texas
Castroville, Texas
Center, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas (2 reports)
Dallas, Texas
Dayton, Texas
Dickinson, Texas
Floresville, Texas
Flower Mound, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)
Galveston, Texas
Georgetown, Texas
Hallettsville, Texas
Henderson, Texas
Houston, Texas (5 reports)
Jourdanton, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Killeen, Texas
Kurten, Texas
La Porte, Texas
La Vernia, Texas
Lockhart, Texas
Magnolia, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Mont Belvieu, Texas
Portland, Texas
Rockport, Texas
Round Rock, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (4 reports)
San Marcos, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Spring Branch, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Victoria, Texas
Wimberley, Texas

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