Herbs & Plants

Cassia sieberiana

Botanical Name:Cassia sieberiana
Family: Fabaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Genus: Cassia
Species:C. sieberiana

Synonyms: Cassia kotschyana Oliv.

Common Names: West African Laburnum, (In Bengal it is called Sonajhuri)

Habitat:Cassia sieberiana is native to Africa.

Cassia sieberiana grows best in well drained, humid soils with an annual rainfall of approximately 20 inches. It typically grows as a shrub in very dry regions. These shrubs grow in groups of other plants, they usually never grow alone It grows in Senegal, Sudan, and Uganda. It is also found in East Africa.
E. Asia – Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

West African Laburnum or Cassia sieberiana, is a tropical, deciduous small tree of about 10-20 m tall with dark grey and wrinkled bark. It is characterized by its bright yellow and attractive flowers that form into groups and are upright or hanging.
The lenticels are horizontal and a reddish color. The leaves are arranged in leaflets that contain 7-10 pair of opposite leaves. The upper side of the leaf is moderately shiny while the bottom has very fine nerves with stipules that are deciduous.

This plant has both flowers and fruit. The flowers are a very bright yellow during the dry season, which is from February through March. Flowers are arranged either upright or in pendulous racemes ranging from 30–50 cm. There are five sepals with 5 bracts. The petals are 15–20 cm long while the green sepals are 6-7mm in length. There are a total of 10 stamens. The fruit ranges from a dark brown to black color. The fruit is indehiscent in that it stays attached to the tree for an extended amount of time. September through February is when the fruit reaches maturity.

The tree is named sindia in the Wolof language, and sinjan in Bambara language, which literally means “long breast,” a reference to the shape of the seed pods.


A tropical plant. A plant of drier areas of the tropics, thriving best in savannah areas with an annual rainfall of 800mm or less. Prefers a deep, well-drained, moderately fertile sandy loam and a position in full sun. Plants grow best in an acid, sandy soil. The plant responds well to coppicing. The tree is one of the constituents of the vegetation of fallow fields in the Sahel, but unlike some species, such as the African locust bean (Parkia biglobosa), and shea butter tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), it is eradicated during clearing. Although it is a legume, the roots of this species lack nodulating ability and do not fix atmospheric nitrogen.

Edible Uses:
In Nigeria the sweet extract of the stems is used for food. Chew sticks can also be made from the root-wood part of the plant.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant has several medicinal functions. It is used as a purgative and diuretic. When powdered, different plant parts is used as relief from toothache; and for skin diseases when mixed with butter. Stomach pains, ulcers, diarrhoea, malaria, fever, burns gonorrhoea, etc. can also be treated using different forms of different plant parts of West African laburnum.

The leaves, roots and pods are widely used in traditional medicine. There has been some research into the medically active substances in the plant and several compounds have been identified including calcium oxalate, flavones), an anthraquinone and tannins. The purgative action of the plant can be ascribed to the anthraquinones. The flavones cause diuresis and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity. An assay for antiviral activity against Herpes simplex virus type 1 showed that extracts had a significant activity against this virus. Leaf extracts were found to be active against Staphylococcus lutea, Mycobacterium phlei, Bacillus subtilis and Proteus sp., but not against Staphylococcus albus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Escherichia coli. The entire plant is purgative and diuretic. An infusion is given against all children?s diseases. Powder of different plant parts is applied to teeth to cure toothache; when mixed with butter it is used to treat skin diseases. An infusion of the leaves sweetened with honey is taken against stomach-ache, ulcers and diarrhoea. A steam bath of leafy twigs boiled in water is prescribed to help against malaria attacks and fever; the liquid should also be drunk. Boiled and squeezed fresh leaves are applied as poultice in pleurisy or burns. Gonorrhoea in women is treated by taking leaf powder with food. The twigs are used to treat sleeping sickness. The roots, boiled in water, are used to treat haemorrhoids, bilharzia, leprosy, dropsy and bloody dysentery. In large doses it is used to treat intestinal worms including tapeworms, although this is risky. A pinch of powdered dried decorticated roots, taken at the end of each meal, is said to prevent malaria. After soaking the roots in water, the liquid is used for a bath against tiredness and for body massage. Crushed roots are rubbed on the temples to treat headache. An infusion of the root bark is employed against venereal diseases, sterility and dysmenorrhoea. Capsules made from the root bark are prescribed against Aids. The yellow pulp around the seeds and an infusion of the pods is taken as a laxative

Other Uses: The wood of the roots is used as chewsticks and the wood as material in making furniture or as construction material, and for fuel.

Cassia sieberiana is used to make tools, pestles, mortars, and also used for construction because it is a very hard wood that is resistant to termites. In addition, it is also an ornamental tree because of its brightly colored flowers. Some cultures also incorporate the plant in their religion and for superstitious and magical purposes.

Parts of the plant have also been used traditionally as teeth cleaning twigs.

Known Hazards: The roots and seeds are used as fish poison in Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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