Senna alexandrina

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"Cassia lanceolata" redirects here. This taxon may also refer to other plants; see below.
Alexandrian senna
Senna alexandrina Mill.-Cassia angustifolia L. (Senna Plant).jpg
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Tribe: Cassieae
Genus: Senna
Species: S. alexandrina
Binomial name
Senna alexandrina

Many, see text

Senna alexandrina (Alexandrian senna, in Arabic عشرج or عشرق and see below) is an ornamental plant in the genus Senna. It is used in herbalism. It grows natively in lower Egypt, especially in the Nubian region, and near Khartoum (Sudan), where it is cultivated commercially. It is also grown elsewhere, notably in India and Somalia.

Alexandrian Senna is a shrubby plant that reaches 0.5–1, rarely two, metres in height with a branched, pale-green erect stem and long spreading branches bearing four or five pairs of leaves. These leaves form complex, feathery, mutual pairs. The leaflets vary from 4 to 6 pairs, fully edged, with a sharp top. The midribs are equally divided at the base of the leaflets. The flowers are in a raceme interior[verification needed] blossoms, big in size, coloured yellow that tends to brown. Its legume fruit are horned, broadly oblong, compressed and flat and contain about six seeds.

When cultured, the plants are cut down semi-annually, dried in the sun, stripped and packed in palm-leaf bags. They are then sent on camels to Essouan and Darao, then down the Nile to Cairo or else to Red Sea ports. For the nomadic Ababda, for example, trade in senna provides a significant source of income.

Names and taxonomy[edit]

Senna alexandrina is also known under the names Egyptian senna, Tinnevelly senna, East Indian senna or the French séné de la palthe

It received the names "Alexandrian senna" and "Egyptian senna" because Alexandria in Egypt was the main trade port in past times. The fruits and leaves were transported from Nubia and Sudan and other places to Alexandria, then from it and across the Mediterranean sea to Europe and adjacent Asia.

Though it might look like a scientific name, Cassia Officinalis is actually the apothecary term for this plant, and hence Officinalis—the Latin adjective denoting tools, utensils and medical compounds—is written with an initial upper-case letter, unlike specific epithets, which are always written with an initial lower-case letter today.


C. lanceolata Link is a synonym of Senna sophera var. sophera)
C. lanceolata Pers. is a synonym of Chamaecrista desvauxii var. mollissima
  • Cassia lenitiva Bisch.[verification needed]
  • Cassia senna L.
  • Senna acutifolia (Delile) Batka
  • Senna alexandrina Garsault
  • Senna angustifolia (Vahl) Batka

Medicinal use[edit]

Historically, Senna alexandrina was used in the form of senna pods, or as herbal tea made from the leaves, as a laxative.

Modern medicine has used extracts since at least the 1950s[2] as a laxative.[3][4] If accidentally ingested by infants, it can cause side effects such as severe diaper rash.[3] The active ingredients are several senna glycosides[5] which interact with immune cells in the colon.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ILDIS (2005)
  2. ^ Duncan, As (Feb 1957), "Standardized Senna as a Laxative in the Puerperium", British Medical Journal (Free full text), 1 (5016): 439–41, ISSN 0007-1447, PMC 1974525Freely accessible, PMID 13396280, doi:10.1136/bmj.1.5016.439 
  3. ^ a b Spiller, Ha; Winter, Ml; Weber, Ja; Krenzelok, Ep; Anderson, Dl; Ryan, Ml (May 2003), "Skin breakdown and blisters from senna-containing laxatives in young children", The Annals of pharmacotherapy, 37 (5): 636–9, ISSN 1060-0280, PMID 12708936, doi:10.1345/aph.1C439 
  4. ^ Kinnunen, O; Winblad, I; Koistinen, P; Salokannel, J (Oct 1993), "Safety and efficacy of a bulk laxative containing senna versus lactulose in the treatment of chronic constipation in geriatric patients", Pharmacology (Free full text), 47 Suppl 1: 253–5, ISSN 0031-7012, PMID 8234438, doi:10.1159/000139866 
  5. ^ Hietala, P; Marvola, M; Parviainen, T; Lainonen, H (Aug 1987), "Laxative potency and acute toxicity of some anthraquinone derivatives, senna extracts and fractions of senna extracts", Pharmacology & toxicology, 61 (2): 153–6, ISSN 0901-9928, PMID 3671329, doi:10.1111/j.1600-0773.1987.tb01794.x 
  6. ^ Lemli, J (Nov 1995), "Mechanism of action of sennosides", Bulletin de l'Academie nationale de médecine, 179 (8): 1605–11, ISSN 0001-4079, PMID 8717178 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]