Invasive Species Compendium

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Senna surattensis
(golden senna)

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Datasheet

Senna surattensis (golden senna)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 10 February 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Senna surattensis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • golden senna
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. surattensis is a small tree which is listed as an ‘agricultural weed’, ‘environmental weed’, ‘cultivation escape’, ‘garden thug’, ‘naturalised’ and ‘weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.
TitleHabit, showing flowers and leaves
CaptionSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.
Habit, showing flowers and leavesSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.
TitleHabit, showing flowers and leaves
CaptionSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.
Habit, showing flowers and leavesSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); habit, showing flowers and leaves. West Maui, Hawaii, USA. March, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of flowers and leaves. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2010.
TitleFlowers and leaves
CaptionSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of flowers and leaves. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2010.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of flowers and leaves. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2010.
Flowers and leavesSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of flowers and leaves. Waihee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2010.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of leaves. Kaeleku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009
TitleLeaves
CaptionSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of leaves. Kaeleku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of leaves. Kaeleku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009
LeavesSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); close-up of leaves. Kaeleku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. June, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); voucher specimen of flowers, leaves and unripe seedpods. Haiku Rd, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2002.
TitleLeaves, flowers and unripe seedpods
CaptionSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); voucher specimen of flowers, leaves and unripe seedpods. Haiku Rd, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2002.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Senna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); voucher specimen of flowers, leaves and unripe seedpods. Haiku Rd, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2002.
Leaves, flowers and unripe seedpodsSenna surattensis (golden senna or scrambled egg plant); voucher specimen of flowers, leaves and unripe seedpods. Haiku Rd, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January, 2002.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Senna surattensis (Burm. f.) H. Irwin & Barneby

Preferred Common Name

  • golden senna

Other Scientific Names

  • Cassia fastigiata Vahl
  • Cassia glauca Lam.
  • Cassia suffruticosa Roth
  • Cassia surattensis Burm.f.
  • Psilorhegma suffruticosa (Roth) Britton & Rose
  • Senna speciosa Roxb.

International Common Names

  • English: foetid cassia; glaucous cassia; glossy shower; glossy-shower senna; scrambled eggs bush; sickle senna; Singapore shower tree; sunshine tree
  • Chinese: huang huai jue ming

Local Common Names

  • Indonesia: kembang kuning
  • Indonesia/Nusa Tenggara: kembang koning; kemoning; kuning
  • Laos: dok sake; sak heng
  • Malaysia: gelenggang
  • Thailand: khilek-ban; songbadan
  • USA/Hawaii: kalamona; kolomona

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. surattensis is a small tree which is listed as an ‘agricultural weed’, ‘environmental weed’, ‘cultivation escape’, ‘garden thug’, ‘naturalised’ and ‘weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). It is known to shade out forages in mesic pastures and has a history of repeated introductions outside of its native range (Motooka et al., 2003; PIER, 2014). However the species has been spread primarily by human cultivation rather than by seed dispersal, as its pods lack pulp and its seeds are not well adapted for dispersal by biotic or abiotic factors (PIER, 2014). A risk assessment conducted by PIER (2014) called for further evaluation of the species’ invasiveness and risk of introduction. It is currently classified as an invasive species in several Asian and Pacific countries including Singapore, Taiwan, French Polynesia, and Micronesia, as well as Hawaii (PIER, 2014; Taiwan Invasive Species Database, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014; Wagner et al., 2014).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
  •                                 Genus: Cassia
  •                                     Species: Senna surattensis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Until the beginning of the 1980s the genus Cassia was considered to be a very large genus of over 500 species. Bentham (1871) wrote that three groups within the Cassia genus were so distinct from one another that any species can always be unequivocally allocated to one of them; some main distinctions included fruit structure, stamen structure and arrangement, and nodulation (Lock, 1988). However it was not until 1982 that Irwin and Barneby formally separated Cassia into three genera: Cassia L. emend. Gaertner, Senna Miller, and Chamaecrista Moench; Cassia now has only about 30 species, whereas Senna and Chamaecrista comprise about equal numbers of species, about 260 and 270 respectively (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; Sosef and Maesen, 1997). These three genera are now largely accepted and together make up subtribe Cassinae. Cassia and Senna differ principally in stamen organization, and in arid areas of Australia, taxonomic distinctions between and within the three genera are blurred by polyploidy, hybridization and apoximis (Lewis et al., 2005). In 1988 Lock presented new names and combinations for the Cassinae species in Africa, noting that “if Cassia were to continue to be used in its broad sense in Africa, there would be several species which would be consistently given different names in different continents” (Lock, 1988).

Approximately 80% of the Senna genus’ 260 or so species occur in New World tropical and subtropical areas, extending into warm temperate and rarely into cool temperate areas of both hemispheres with species in Africa, Madagascar, Australia, and a few in southeastern Asia and Pacific islands (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; Lock, 1988; Wagner et al., 2014).

The species S. surattensis is named after  the town of Surat, located near Bombay, India (Motooka et al., 2003; Quattrocchi, 2012). Two other Senna spp. and three Crotalaria spp. share S. surattensis’ vernacular name in Hawaii, kolomona or kalamona (‘glory of Solomon’) (Motooka et al., 2003).

The species has been much confused with Senna sulfurea (Collad.) H.S.Irwin & Barneby; S. surattensis has more numerous, smaller leaflets, smaller brachystylous flowers and shorter, short-stipitate pod (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; ILDIS, 2014). In historical literature the name Cassia glauca Lam. may refer to either of these species, as this name has been listed as a synonym for both Cassia surattensis Burm. f. (synonym of S. surattensis) and S. sulfurea (ILDIS, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014). De Wit’s description of S. surattensis has also become muddled with that of S. sulfurea, adding further confusion to interpreting the literature (Irwin and Barneby, 1982).

Description

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Small trees, 3-6 m tall. Leaves 8-18 cm long, leaflets 6-10 pairs, the distal ones larger and proportionately narrower, obovate to elliptic obovate or oblanceolate, 2-5 cm long, 0.8-2 cm wide, upper surface green and usually glabrous, lower surface glaucous and sparsely appressed pubescent, especially along midrib, apex rounded, emarginate, base obliquely rounded or cuneate, clavate nectaries between the first, second, and sometimes third pairs of leaflets, stipules linear subulate, 4.5-13 mm long, caducous. Flowers in racemes 0.4-2.5 cm long, pedicels 15-25 mm long, bracts submembranous, ovate to lanceolate, 2-7 mm long, persistent until anthesis, then deciduous, the lowermost sometimes subtended by a clavate nectary; calyx lobes oblanceolate to oblong obovate, the outermost 3-4.4 mm long, inner ones 5.5-8 mm long; petals bright yellow or yellowish orange, ovate to oblong ovate, the longest one 16-24 mm long; fertile stamens 10, all nearly similar to one another, slightly increasing in size toward abaxial side of flower; filaments 9, 0.7-2 mm long, that of central abaxial stamen 1.5-3.5 mm long. Pods pendulous, chartaceous, strongly compressed, 7-10 cm long, 1.1-1.5 cm wide, base constricted into a stipe 0.5-0.7 cm long, the cavity with narrow interseminal septa. Seeds oriented transversely in 1 row, compressed parallel to the valves, pale brown, glossy, oblong ellipsoid, 5-6 mm long, the areole 2.7-3.6 mm long [taken from Wagner et al., 2014].

Plant Type

Top of page Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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The origin of this species remains obscure. It was previously thought by Bentham to be native to coastal north Australia, but Symon (1966) characterized it as a probable introduction there (Irwin and Barneby, 1982). Liogier and Martorell (2000) consider the species native to Australia. The species is known to occur, and is often cultivated as an ornamental, in many tropical and subtropical regions including Southeast Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, and is known to have escaped into the wild, naturalizing in many of these places (Irwin and Barneby, 1982). In the Pacific, the species is of uncertain native status on the Caroline and Society islands, and on the Hawaiian Islands it has become naturalized on Kaua`i, O`ahu, Moloka`i, Lana`i, and Maui Islands (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; Wagner et al., 2014). In Sri Lanka, the species is widely planted but does not appear to have become naturalized (Poorten and Poorten, 2012).

Disagreement between sources was found for several countries, likely due to its obscure origins. USDA-ARS (2014) lists the species as native to Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, whereas ILDIS notes the species as introduced or of uncertain status in these countries. In Singapore the species is listed as introduced by USDA-ARS (2014), introduced and cultivated only by ILDIS (2014), and as an invasive species by PIER (2014).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
BhutanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
ChinaPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-FujianPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Hong KongPresentNativePIER, 2014Cultivated
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
IndiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-AssamPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-BiharPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-DelhiPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-GoaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-GujaratPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-HaryanaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Himachal PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-KarnatakaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-KeralaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Madhya PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-MaharashtraPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-ManipurPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-MeghalayaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-MizoramPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-NagalandPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-OdishaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-RajasthanPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-SikkimPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-TripuraPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-West BengalPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
IndonesiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
-Irian JayaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
LaosPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
MalaysiaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
MaldivesPresentILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
MyanmarPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
PakistanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
PhilippinesPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedChong et al., 2009; ILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014Cultivated only
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedPoorten and Poorten, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
TaiwanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
ThailandPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
VietnamPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014

Africa

Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
GhanaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
MauritiusPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
NigeriaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
RéunionPresentILDIS, 2014
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
TogoPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-FloridaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014Introduced by 1871.
-TexasPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesWidespreadIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012St. Vincent

Oceania

AustraliaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-QueenslandPresentNativePIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
-Western AustraliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014Invasive to Gamier Is: Mangareva I; Marquesas: Fatu Hiva I., Hiva Oa I., Ua Huka I.; Society Is: Raiatea I., Taha’a I; Tahiti I.;Austral Is: Rurutu I., Tubuai I.
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014Society Is.
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
PalauPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014Including Bismarck Archipelago.
TongaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. surattensis is considered to originate from Southeast Asia and possibly Malesia and Australia, but has now been widely introduced to tropical and subtropical regions around the world as an ornamental plant as well as for use as a hedge and shade tree in plantations (Little and Skolmen, 1989; Hanelt et al., 2001).

Date of introduction to the West Indies is uncertain, but the species is known to have been cultivated on St. Vincent and the Windward Islands before 1826 (Irwin and Barneby, 1982). Because the name Cassia glauca Lam. could refer to either S. surattensis or to S. sulfurea (Collad.) HS Irwin & Barneby in historical literature, as this name has been listed as a synonym for both Cassia surattensis Burm. f. (synonym of S. surattensis) and S. sulfurea (ILDIS, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014), the species may have been included (as Cassia glauca Lam.) in Grisebach’s flora on the British West Indies, which reported it to be present in Jamaica, Saint Kitts, Antigua and St. Vincent, and native to Guadeloupe (which from current literature is unlikely) and the East Indies (Grisebach, 1859-1864). The species may have also been cultivated in Trinidad by 1870 (as Cassia glauca Lam.) (Prestoe, 1870). Introduction to Puerto Rico appears to have been relatively recent, as the species was not included in Bello’s flora of Puerto Rico (1881-1883); Irwin and Barneby (1982) report only that the species was cultivated in Puerto Rico sometime after 1826, after which time it became naturalized (Liogier and Martorell, 2000). Britton included Cassia glauca in his Flora of Bermuda (Britton, 1918).

In Hawaii, the species is thought to have been a post-James Cook (died 1779) introduction, and was naturalized there by 1871 (Little and Skolmen, 2003; Motooka et al., 2003). In Sri Lanka, the species was introduced but has been present on the island since 1824, described by Moon by the name C. glauca (Moon, 1824).

Risk of Introduction

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Risk of introduction is moderate but not insignificant, and further evaluation has been recommended by a weed risk assessment by PIER; the species possesses both desirable and undesirable traits that could cause potential invasiveness if not monitored. The species is known to outcompete forages and native flora by shading in mesic pastures (Motooka et al., 2003). It produces seeds profusely, with 10-20 seeds per pod, and is already naturalized in many of the countries it has been introduced to (Little and Skolmen, 1989; PIER, 2014). However, not only are the seeds too heavy and unadapted for wind dispersal, but the pods usually remain attached to the plant so the seeds do not fall to the ground and germinate, causing them to rot on the plant; this has limited the species in some places, like Sri Lanka, to urban and semi-urban landscapes (Poorten and Poorten, 2012). Despite this, the species has been widely cultivated around the world in tropical and subtropical climate zones and has become invasive after escaping from cultivation in several countries, particularly in Asia and Asia-Pacific. Considering the invasiveness of many other members of the Senna genus, and because the species continues to be a popular ornamental plant for cultivation around the world, the probability of invasion of the species should be monitored and researched further. 

Habitat

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S. surattensis has escaped from cultivation to roadsides, pastures, and waste places at lower altitudes and is quite common in urban and semi-urban areas. In Southeast Asia, the species favours teak forests and marshy soils, up to 300 m (Sosef and Maesen, 1997). The species is often used as a hedge plant and shade tree in plantations and cultivated areas (Little and Skolmen, 1989; Hanelt et al., 2001; Poorten and Poorten, 2012; PIER, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). In Hawaii, it has been reported to also grow in volcanic areas and coastal forests (Little and Skolmen, 1989).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Buildings Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Buildings Present, no further details Natural
Buildings Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome count for this species is 2n = 28, 32, 56 (Wagner et al., 2014).

Associations

PIER (2014) reports that S. surattensis is among those Senna species with nodule-forming capability, which allows for symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. There is conflicting evidence of this capability, however; Sosef and Maesen (1997) and Mahmood and Iqbal (1994) report that this species does not nodulate. According to Giller (2001), no species in the genus Senna have been found to nodulate.

Environmental Requirements

S. surattensis is easily toppled by wind, and can require several years to become properly established; perhaps for this reason it is generally not a long-lived tree (University of Florida-IFAS, 2014). The species is insensitive to sulphur dioxide pollution, making it a popular ornamental in countries with highly-populated urban areas such as the Philippines and Hong Kong (Sosef and Maesen, 1997).

The species prefers marshy soils, as young cultivated trees must be well watered in order to come established. It has low tolerance for salt, and medium tolerance for drought (University of Florida-IFAS, 2014).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Catopsilia pomona Predator
Catopsilia scylla Predator All Stages Larval food plant
Eurema blanda Predator Leaves Larval food plant
Oecophylla smaragdina Predator All Stages

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Several caterpillars and insect species predate upon S. surattensis as a larval food plant. These include Catopsilia scylla and Catopsilia pomona, which eat both young and older leaves of S. surattensis; Eurema blanda silhetana, which only feeds on the young leaves; and Oecophylla smaragdina (red tree ants), which will prey on almost any living creature including butterfly larvae and pupae, and often build their nests on S. surattensis plants (Poorten and Poorten, 2012).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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S. surattensis has spread across tropical and subtropical regions around the world primarily as a result of its intentional cultivation by humans for ornamental and agroforestry purposes, and by accidental escape into the wild. The species produces seeds profusely, with up to 20 seeds per pod (Little and Skolmen, 1989; PIER, 2014). However, dispersal by birds and animals is considered unlikely, given that the pods do not have pulp to attract them (PIER, 2014). Wind dispersal is also unlikely, as the seeds are too heavy to be dispersed by wind, and pods remain attached to the plant so the seeds do not fall to the ground and germinate, causing them to rot on the plant (Poorten and Poorten, 2012).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionGrown as hedge and shade tree in plantations and agricultural areas Yes Yes Hanelt et al., 2001; Little and Skolmen, 1989; Sosef and Maesen, 1997
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscaped from cultivation in places including India, Burma, Indochina, and the Philippines Yes Yes Little and Skolmen, 1989; Randall, 2012; Wagner et al., 2014
Garden waste disposalEscaped from cultivation in places including India, Burma, Indochina, and the Philippines Yes Yes Little and Skolmen, 1989; Randall, 2012; Wagner et al., 2014
Hedges and windbreaksSpecies grown as hedge and shade tree in plantations and agricultural areas. Yes Yes Hanelt et al., 2001; Little and Skolmen, 1989
Medicinal useLeaves, flowers, roots and bark of the plant are reportedly used locally for traditional medicine Yes Hanelt et al., 2001; Little and Skolmen, 1989; Motooka et al., 2003; Sosef and Maesen, 1997
Ornamental purposesSpecies widely introduced throughout Old and New World tropics as an ornamental Yes Yes PIER, 2014; Sosef and Maesen, 1997

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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The species has naturalized in many places after escaping from cultivation, and has been recognized as negatively impacting native environments where it can establish; in Hawaii, for example, it is known to shade out forages in mesic pastures (Motooka et al., 2003). Despite this, S. surratensis is valued in agriculture as a shade and hedge tree. Economically, it is a popular ornamental that has been introduced around the world for this reason, with its attractive flowers that bloom throughout the year and tolerance for SO2-polluted air (Sosef and Maesen, 1997; University of Florida-IFAS, 2014). 

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - shading
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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S. surratensis is cultivated as a shade tree and as a hedge and ornamental plant; its leaves are used locally in traditional medicine (Hanelt et al., 2001), and its bark is said to be medicinal (Little and Skolmen, 1989).

In Southeast Asia, its young leaves are cooked and eaten as a vegetable, and in the Philippines, it is often used in teak plantations as a shade tree and hedge plant. The roots are used to treat gonorrhoea, the leaves for dysentery, and the flowers as a general purgative (Sosef and Maesen, 1997).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Shade and shelter
  • Windbreak

Human food and beverage

  • Vegetable

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Christmas tree
  • Cut flower
  • garden plant
  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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S. surattensis can be confused with a similar ornamental Senna species, S. siamea (Lamarck) Irwin & Barneby. S. surattensis can be distinguished by the small tree habit, alternate, pinnately compound leaves, six to ten pairs of leaflets waxy white on the lower surface, five-parted yellow flowers with ten stamens, and strap-shaped pods. Senna siamea differs in having smaller flowers 9-16 mm long and larger fruits 18-30 cm long (Whistler, 2000).

S. surattensis and S. sulfurea are the only two genuine sennas with ten fertile stamens encountered outside gardens in the New World, and are thus readily identified to section when in flower; in the West Indies, they will be recognized in fruit by the combination of ample obtuse leaflets and relatively broad plano-compressed pods shallowly undulate along the sutures (Irwin and Barneby, 1982). Compared with S. sulfurea, S. surattensis has more numerous, smaller leaflets, smaller brachystylous flowers and shorter, short-stipitate pods (Irwin and Barneby, 1982; ILDIS, 2014).

Prevention and Control

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S. surattensis has been demonstrated to be sensitive to triclopyr and perhaps to other hormone-type herbicides (Motooka et al., 2003). In the 1960s a major biological control programme was implemented in Hawaii. One of these projects focused on controlling S. surattensis with a bioherbicide based on the fungus Acremonium, which reportedly saved the Hawaiian cattle industry from collapse in the 1970s (Trujillo, 2005).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Recommended areas for further research include the extent of this species’ invasiveness, as recommended by the PIER weedy risk assessment; this is especially important, considering its continued widespread cultivation as an ornamental. 

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Bailey A, Chandler D, Grant WP, Greaves J, Prince G, Tatchell M, 2010. Biopesticides: pest management and regulation [ed. by Bailey, A.\Chandler, D.\Grant, W. P.\Greaves, J.\Prince, G.\Tatchell, M.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI, v + 222 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20103343023

Bello D, 1883. [English title not available]. (Apuntes para la flora de Puerto Rico. Segunda parte. Monoclamídeas.) Anales de la Sociedad Española de Historia Natural, 12:103-130

Bello Espinosa D, 1881. [English title not available]. (Apuntes para la flora de Puerto Rico. Primera parte.) Anal. Soc. Española de Hist. Nat, 10:231-304

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Britton NL, 1918. Flora of Bermuda. New York, USA: Charles Scribner's Sons. 585 pp

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Chong KY, Tan HTW, Corlett RT, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, 273 pp. http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/nus/pdf/PUBLICATION/LKCNH%20Museum%20Books/LKCNHM%20Books/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Giller KE, 2001. Nitrogen fixation in tropical cropping systems, Ed.2 [ed. by Giller, K. E.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing, xviii + 423 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20013118217

Grisebach AHR, 1864. Flora of the British West Indian Islands. London, UK: Lovell Reeve & Co., 806 pp

Hanelt P, Buttner R, Mansfeld R, 2001. Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops (except Ornamentals). Berlin, Germany: Springer

ILDIS, 2014. International Legume Database and Information Service. Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

Irwin HS, Barneby RC, 1982. The American Cassiinae: a synoptical revision of Leguminosae tribe Cassieae subtribe Cassiinae in the New World. 1982, v + 918 pp.; Memoirs of the New York Botanical Gardens 35, 2 parts

Lewis GP, Schrire B, Mackinder B, Lock M, 2005. Legumes of the world. Richmond, USA: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 577 pp

Liogier HA, Martorell LF, 2000. Flora of Puerto Rico and adjacent islands: a systematic synopsis, 2nd edition revised. San Juan, Puerto Rico: La Editorial, University of Puerto Rico, 382 pp

Little EL Jr, Skolmen RG, 1989. Common forest trees of Hawaii (native and introduced). Agriculture Handbook Washington, 679. Washington, DC, USA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

Lock JM, 1988. Cassia Sens. (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae) in Africa. Kew Bulletin, 43:333-342

Mahmood A, Iqbal P, 1994. Nodulation status of leguminous plants in Sindh. Pakistan Journal of Botany, 26(1):7-20

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

Moon A, 1824. A Catalogue of the indigenous and exotic plants growing in Ceylon: Also an outline of the Linnaean sexual system of Botany in the english and singhalese languages. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Wesleyan Mission Press. https://archive.org/details/acatalogueindig00moongoog

Motooka P, Castro L, Nelson D, Nagai G, Ching L, 2003. Weeds of Hawaii's Pastures and Natural Areas; an identification and management guide. Manoa, Hawaii, USA: College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii

PIER, 2014. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Poorten Gvan der, Poorten Nvan der, 2012. Catopsilia scylla (Linnaeus, 1763): a new record for Sri Lanka with notes on its biology, life history and distribution (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera, 45:17-23. http://www.doylegroup.harvard.edu/~carlo/JRL/jrl.html

Prestoe H, 1870. Catalog of plants cultivated in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Trinidad, from 1865-1870., Trinidad: Chronicle Printing Office

Quattrocchi U, 2012. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology [ed. by Quattrocchi, U.]. London, UK: CRC Press Inc., 3960 pp

Randall RP, 2012. A Global Compendium of Weeds. Perth, Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, 1124 pp. http://www.cabi.org/isc/FullTextPDF/2013/20133109119.pdf

Roth AW, 1821. Novae plantarum species praesertim Indiae orientalis: Ex collectione doct. Benj. Heynii. Cum descriptionibus et observationibus. Halberstadii, Germany: Sumptibus H. Vogleri

Sosef MSM, Maesen LJGvan der, 1997. Senna surattensis (Burm.) Irwin & Barneby. In: Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA) No. 11: Auxiliary plants [ed. by Faridah Hanum, I. \Maesen, L. J. G. van der]. Leiden, The Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher

Symon DE, 1966. A revision of the genus Cassia L. Caesalpiniaceae in Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 90:73-151

Taiwan Invasive Species Database, 2014. Taiwan Invasive Species Database, eFloras website. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=102

The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://www.theplantlist.org

Toruan-Purba AV, 1999. Senna Miller. In: Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA) No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1 [ed. by Padua, L. S. de \Bunyapraphatsara, N. \Lemmens, R. H. M. J.]. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher

Trujillo EE, 2005. History and success of plant pathogens for biological control of introduced weeds in Hawaii. Biological Control, 33(1):113-122. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journals/1049-9644

University of Florida-IFAS, 2014. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida - Senna surattensis. Florida, USA: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. http://lee.ifas.ufl.edu/Hort/GardenPubsAZ/Sennasurattensisglaucouscassia.pdf

USDA-ARS, 2014. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx

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Wagner WL, Herbst DR, Lorence DH, 2014. Flora of the Hawaiian Islands website. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution,. http://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/index.htm

Whistler WA, 2000. Tropical ornamentals. Portland, Oregon, USA: Timber Press

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indieshttp://botany.si.edu/antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
USFS Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)http://www.hear.org/pier/

Contributors

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02/04/2014 Original text by:

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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