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Senna Leaves  - Cassia Angustifolia

Senna Leaves   ( Cassia Angustifolia )

Description
The sennas are typically shrubs or subshrubs, some becoming scandent when growing into other vegetation. Some are herbs or small trees. Many species have extrafloral nectaries.

The leaves are paripinnately compound, the leaflets opposite. The inflorescence is a raceme, or some arrangement or racemes. The pedicels lack bracteoles.

The flowers produce no nectar. They are buzz pollinated and offer pollen as a reward to pollinators. They are often asymmetric. The petals are 5 in number, similar to each other, yellow, or rarely white.

The stamens may be as few as 4, but usually there are 10. When 10, they occur in 3 sets. The 3 adaxial stamens are staminodial. The 4 medial stamens are smaller than the 3 abaxial stamens. The anthers are basifixed and open by two terminal pores or short slits.

The gynoecium is often enantiostylous; that is, it is deflected laterally to the right or left. This makes the flower asymmetric, but the perianth and the androecium may be asymmetrical as well.

The fruit is a legume, indehiscent or tardily dehiscent.

Uses
Cassia gum - a commonly used thickening agent - despite its name, is actually from Chinese Senna (S. obtusifolia) seeds. In some Southeast Asian cuisines (particularly those of Thailand and Laos), the leaves and flowers of Siamese Senna (S. siamea, called khi-lek in Thai), either fresh or pickled in brine, are used in cooking, particularly in gaeng khi-lek (khi-lek curry).

Another senna, Senna italica ssp. italica ( Cassia obovata ), often called "neutral henna", is used as a hair treatment with effects similar to henna but without the red color. The active component is an anthraquinone derivative called chrysophanic acid(1,8-Dihydroxy-3-methylanthraquinone), also called chrysophanol, which is also found in higher concentrations in rhubarb root. It adds a slight yellow color. Chrysophanol has been reported to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used by the beetle Galeruca tanaceti as a pheromone.


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