Senna occidentalis

Senna occidentalis (L.) Link.

Synonym: Cassia occidentalis

Common Names: Coffee Senna, Stinking Weed, Wild Coffee

Family: Fabaceae

Habit: Senna occidentalis grows as an annual up to 1.5 m in height. The evenly pinnately compound leaves are arranged alternately, to 15 cm in length with linear stipules.  There is a distinct round, dark colored, gland at the petiole base near the leaf axil on the pulvinus.  The leaflets are in 4-6 pairs, ovate to lanceolate, with an acute leaf apex and an entire margin that is “glandular” pubescent. The vegetation smells bad when crushed.

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are arranged in axillary racemes. The calyx has 5 greenish, unfused, oblong sepals. The corolla has 5 yellow/orange yellow unfused petals, none of which form a keel.  There are 10 stamens of which only 6 are fertile.  The ovary is superior and forms a thickened, brown, ribbed, legume at maturity.

Habitat: Senna occidentalis grows in Human Altered environments in and around abandoned fields/houses and roadsides.

Distribution: Senna occidentalis is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago but occurs on many of the island groupings. It occurs throughout the general Caribbean region and Central America.  It now occurs as a pan tropical and subtropical weed.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Senna occidentalis is not known to be used in the Lucayan Archipelago.

In other parts of the Caribbean the seeds are used as a coffee substitute as well as to treat gastrointestinal issues, colds and flu, circulatory problems, and skin disorders.