Senna Species, Candle Bush, Candelabra Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Golden Candlestick

Senna alata

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Senna (SEN-nuh) (Info)
Species: alata (a-LAY-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Cassia alata




Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Florala, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Tucson, Arizona(2 reports)

Hermitage, Arkansas

Peel, Arkansas

Chowchilla, California

Palm Desert, California

San Diego, California

Tulare, California

Santa Maria la Carità, Campania

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Belleview, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida(2 reports)

Bokeelia, Florida

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 Charlotte, 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(2 reports)

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(6 reports)

Jourdanton, Texas

Kerrville, Texas

Killeen, Texas

Kingsville, Texas

Kurten, Texas

La Porte, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

Lockhart, Texas

Magnolia, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

Mont Belvieu, Texas

New Braunfels, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 15, 2015, gartenfraulein from Denver, CO wrote:

I received this as a gift and I live in Denver, Co in zone 5. Can I grow this indoors in a very large pot until it is warm enough to go outside? Any help is appreciated! Thank you kindly!!!


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.


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.


On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC 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.


On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC 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.


On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC 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.


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

What does the root system of this plant look like ?


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 agai... read more


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.


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. ... read more


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 ... read more


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



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 sulph... read more


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.


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.


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.


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 hav... read more


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


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.