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Senna hebecarpa, with the common names American senna[3] and wild senna, is a species of legume native to eastern North America.[2][1][4][5]

Senna hebecarpa
Senna hebecarpa WFNY-104.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
S. hebecarpa
Binomial name
Senna hebecarpa
(Fernald) H.S.Irwin & Barneby [1]

Cassia hebecarpa Fernald
Cassia hebecarpa Fernald var. longipila E.L. Braun
Senna hebecarpa (Fernald) Irwin & Barneby var. longipila (E.L. Braun) C.F. Reed[2]



The plant is found from the Great Lakes region and Maine southwards through the Eastern United States, in the Appalachian Mountains and Atlantic Plains, to Georgia.[2][6]

It is found in moist open woodlands, and in disturbed areas.[6]


Senna hebecarpa grows as a sparsely branched perennial shrub. It has axils of compound leaves.[7]

Clusters of light yellow to orange flowers bloom through July and August in North America.[7]


It is a larval host and nectar source for the Cloudless Giant Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) butterfly.[7] It is also of special value to native bumble bees.[7][8]

Conservation status in the United StatesEdit

It is endangered in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, threatened in Vermont, as historical in Rhode Island,[9] and as threatened in Connecticut.[10]


Senna hebecarpa is cultivated as an ornamental plant, for use as a perennial wildflower and flowering shrub in traditional and wildlife gardens, in natural landscaping projects, and for habitat restoration projects.[7][4][5]

Native American ethnobotanyEdit

The Cherokee use an infusion of the plant for various purposes, including taking it for cramps, heart trouble, giving it to children and adults as a purgative and for fever, and taking it for 'blacks' (hands and eye sockets turn black). They also give an infusion of the root specifically to children for fever. They use a poultice the root for sores, and they use a compound infusion for fainting spells. They also use a compound for pneumonia.[11] The Iroquois use the plant as a worm remedy and take a compound decoction as a laxative.[12]


  1. ^ a b ITIS Standard Report Page: Senna hebecarpa
  2. ^ a b c United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2014): Senna hebecarpa. Retrieved 8-24-2014.
  3. ^ "Senna hebecarpa". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b Blanchan, N. (1916): Wild Flowers: An Aid to Knowledge of our Wild Flowers and their Insect Visitors. TXT fulltext at Project Gutenberg
  5. ^ a b Blanchan, N. (1917): Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. HTML or TXT fulltext at Project Gutenberg
  6. ^ a b "Senna hebecarpa". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network: ''Senna hebecarpa
  8. ^ The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation: Pollinator Conservation Program
  9. ^ "Plants Profile for Senna hebecarpa (American senna)". Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Connecticut's Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern Species 2015". State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Bureau of Natural Resources. Retrieved 1 January 2018. (Note: This list is newer and updated from the one used by
  11. ^ Hamel, Paul B. and Mary U. Chiltoskey, 1975, Cherokee Plants and Their Uses -- A 400 Year History, Sylva, N.C. Herald Publishing Co., page 54
  12. ^ Herrick, James William, 1977, Iroquois Medical Botany, State University of New York, Albany, PhD Thesis, page 362

External linksEdit