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Information @ a Glance

General
  • Synonyms of Senna are Alexandrian Senna. Nubian Senna. Cassia Senna. Cassia lenitiva. Cassia Lanceolata. Cassia officinalis. Cassia aethiopica. Senna acutifolia. Egyptian Senna. Sene de la palthe. Tinnevelly Senna. Cassia angustifolia. East Indian Senna.
  • Senna, a popular purgative, consisting of the leaves of two species of Cassia (natural order Leguminosae), viz. C. acutifolia and C. angustifolia. These are small shrubs about 2 ft. high, with numerous lanceolate or narrowly lanceolate leaflets arranged pinnately on a main stalk with no terminal leaflet; the yellow flowers are borne in long-stalked racemes in the leaf-axils, and are succeeded by broad flattish pods about 2 in. long.

Cultivation and Harvesting

  • The crop can thrive on a variety of soils, but is largely grown on red loams, on alluvial loams. The texture of the soil which account for the major hectarage under senna crop varies from sandy loam to loam, while the black cotton soils are heavier and more fertile. The average pH ranges from 7 to 8.5. It is very sensitive to water logging. Hence, grown only on well-drained soils. Senna is a warmth loving crop and require bright sunshine for its successful growth. Heavy rains and cloudy weather during growth are harmful to the crop. An average rainfall of 25-40 cm. distributed from June to October is sufficient to produce good crop.
  • Senna plant produces foliage containing higher sennosides between 5-90 days age, depending upon the total plant growth. The picking of leaves is done by hand so that most of the growing tops are removed at harvest this also induces the plants to produce more of branching which otherwise reduce foliage growth considerably. A second picking is taken at 90-100 days and the third picking between 130-150 days when the entire plants are removed so that the harvested material includes both leaves and pods together.

Applications

  • Cassia senna L. (Caesalpineaceae) is an important medicinal plant, which has been widely used in Ayurvedic, Unani and Alternative Systems of Medicine1 due to its purgative action. The drug mainly comprises of dried leaves and pods. The active chemical components of the plant are anthraquinone glycosides sennosides, especially sennosides A and B, which are responsible for the purgative action.

  • It is used to treat acute constipation and is useful after anal-rectal surgery, or with very painful hemorrhoids, as it ensures soft stools and easy bowel movements.

Market and Report

  • Senna is one of the principal herbal drugs having export potential for developed countries. India is the major supplier of the leaves and pods (shells) as well as senna glycosides to the world market. Approximately 75% of the senna produced in India is exported. 

  • Seed gums (galactomannans) are widely used for a variety of industrial applications. The Australian market is supplied entirely by imports costing tens of millions of dollars per year. Carob, guar, and Senna gums are currently used to supply the bulk of this demand. However, inconsistency of supply and price has driven industrial users to search for alternative sources of supply. 

  • A field harvest was conducted on wild Senna obtusifolia to demonstrate the feasibility of mechanical harvesting. Glasshouse estimates were low at 0.8 tonnes/hectare, too low to support a viable industry on a conservative estimated return of $250/tonne seed in the economic model used. However, experimental yields of up to 2.6 tonnes/hectare are reported overseas and should be possible here, given attention to agronomy and cultivars. At a yield of 2.0 tonnes/hectare cropping of Senna tora would be commercially viable, returning a gross margin equivalent to that of barley in Central Queensland. At 2.6 tonnes/hectare the gross margin would equal that of wheat. 

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