Candle Bush
(Senna alata)

candlebush flowers

candlebush leaves

candlebush fruits


    Family: Fabaceae
    Genus: Senna
    Species: Senna alata
    Common names: Candelabra Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Ringworm Tree or "candletree".
    Part Used: leaves and bark

Documented Properties
& Actions:
Cassia alata or Senna alata is often called the Ringworm Bush because of its very effective fungicidal properties, for treating ringworm and other fungal infections of the skin. The leaves are ground in a mortar to obtain a kind of "green cotton wool". This is mixed with the same amount of vegetable oil then rubbed on the affected area 2-3 times a day. A fresh preparation is made every day.

Its laxative effect, due to its content, is also well proven.

Its active ingredients include the yellow chrysophanic acid and anthraquinone.

Senna alata is native to Mexico, and can be found in diverse habitats. In the tropics it grows up to an altitude of 1,200 meters. The shrub stands 34 m tall, with leaves 5080 cm long. The inflorescence looks like a yellow candle. The fruit shaped like a straight pod is up to 25 cm long. Its seed are distributed by water or animals. The leaves close in the dark.


Senna alata is most commonly used in a tisane for cooling or as a laxative. As a bath for itching, crush kasialata and kaka betje leaves (Senna bicapsularis) in water and bathe with the liquid. One herbalist uses kasialata, three to five leaves, with china (Exostema sanctae-luciae), an inch of the bark, when "the blood is dirty, have boils on the skin, have pus." kasialata leaves are boiled and the water used to wash the face or if something "comes up on the skin" A bath made of these leaves makes the skin "come shiny."

It has been observed that the antimicrobial activity of Senna alata is associated with the presence of component such phenols, tannins, saponins, alkaloids, steroids, flavonoids and carbohydrates. The ethanolic and metanolic extract Senna alala L. exhibited very long antimicrobial activity against fungi like Candida albicans, Aspergillus flavus Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis and Blastomyces dermatitidis and some bacteria with maximum activity in the fractions containing alkaloid salts and base.