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June 2010
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Candlestick Plant or Cassia alata : characteristics, growing conditions and uses of the plant.

Candlestick Plant or Cassia alata (Senna alata), an evergreen shrub that is upright to spreading or sometimes known as a small tree. The shape of the leaves are oblong to pinnate and have bright green leaflets. Many racemes of bright yellow flowers bloom from late summer to fall. When in bud, flowers are shielded by yellow-green bracts.
It is a very pretty flower which is hard to find. The candlestick plant belongs to legume family and even though it does not bloom until late summer to early fall, the large foliage is attractive.
With no pruning, this perennial shrub grows to about 8-10 feet tall. New blooms come on continuously as long as warmer weather is on hand.
The tall spikes of yellow flowers remain highly visible and attract butterflies. It is important both as a nectar plant and a host plant. The caterpillars of the sulphurs feed on this bush.


Senna (or Cassia) alata hails from the Tropics, including Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and even tropical America.

Growing Conditions

– Christmas candle performs best in full sun.
– Candlestick plants do best with heavy, rich, moist earth.
– Normal garden soils and moisture suit this tropical shrub quite well.
– Mature plants are drought resistant.
– Christmas candle is a tropical shrub that dies as soon as temperatures get near freezing. It can grow along with peppers and tomatoes in spring in zones 7,8 and 9. It will gain a height of 6-10 ft (2-3 m) and begin blooming in October.
– Propagation of Christmas candle starts from seed in late spring when soil temperatures warm.


– It is grown as an ornamental flowering shrub or small tree.
– Antibacterial potency.
– Antifungal activity of flowers that has been used for a long time for the treatment of tinea versicolor and ringworm infections.

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