A: It’s sicklepod, Cassia obtusifolia, also known as coffeebean. I agree that the foliage is interesting – but my Dad paid me good money to pull up every plant I saw in our hayfield because the cows wouldn’t eat hay contaminated with it.
Could you please tell me what it is?
When I was a kid, we called it coffeebean because the crushed seedpod smelled vaguely of coffee. Don’t try it as a substitute for your morning java; the seeds are mildly poisonous.
Q: This interesting plant came up in my flower bed. I let it grow to see what it would be and it continues to grow!
The leaves have a soft touch and around sunset the leaves begin to close and it looks like rows of green butterflies hanging from the branches.
As a side note, I believe the first image posted by Farmerdill may not be Senna occidentalis. S. occidentalis as far as I know always has pointed leaves. I am not an expert on this genus but it looks like a different senna species, maybe obtusifolia. Nonetheless many senna species produce the same or similar chemicals and toxins and Farmerdill’s description is probably applicable to both species.
On Nov 1, 2017, JeffreyCaldwell from Waldon, CA wrote:
While this does not mean the plant is safe in the sense our average garden herbs are safe, it does mean that coffee senna should recieve a little more respect from us. This should be a healthy and informed respect, however, and anyone growing the plant should be aware that it is a proven danger to livestock (principaly the seed pods) and potentialy to crops. The plant can be controlled, however, via careful management of its planting and trimming of the seeds. The plant produces beatiful flowers which turn into interesting spikies of upright curved seed pods. These pods dry on the plant before splitting open and dropping the seeds. For control the pods can be cut and safely discarded anytime betweent the point the flower dies to the time the pod begins to turn brown.
On a recent trip to Senegal I observed numerous families cultivating this plant for its leaves. The families all told me they made tea from the leaves for stomach problems. One women gathering a particularly large load . read more leaves also told me she intended to use them for joint pain. Similar uses are reported from around the world and coffee senna has indeed been proven as a diuretic and liver detoxifier. Antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and numerous other properties have also been demonstrated.
Coffee Senna is not as toxic as many have been led to believe. The seeds are the only part of the plant which are dangerously toxic to humans and animals in small quantities. The rest of the plant is only dangerous to humans in very high doses. The plant has been used in Central America and currently in many other subtropical regions of the world for generations as a medicinal herb. Like many pharmaceuticals, the compounds in the Senna genius can be dangerous if administered improperly but in more moderate doses can provide numerous medical benefits.
Besides being considered a noxious weed by some it may also be considered invasive in some areas. While the plant is indeed an interesting specimen, the utmost responsibility should be taken in its management to prevent any further harm to humans, the environment, and the reputation of this plant.
Looking this plant up since I just discovered that it serves as caterpillar forage for the Cloudless Sulphur butterfly. Seems particularly popular with it on the Caribbean island of Martinique, according to the Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of the French Antilles: