|Senna obtusifolia showing the sickle-shaped seed pods|
Senna obtusifolia showing the sickle-shaped seed pods
(L.) H.S.Irwin & Barneby
Senna obtusifolia (syn. Cassia obtusifolia L., Cassia tora, Emelista tora) is a plant in the genus Senna. It is also known as foetid cassia, sickle senna, Chinese senna, sicklepod, sickle-pod, sickle pod, coffee weed, coffeeweed, coffee pod, coffee-pod, java bean, java-bean, or arsenic weed. It grows wild in North, Central, and South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, and is considered a particularly serious weed in many places.
The species's name comes from the Latin obtus ("dull or blunt"), and folium ("leaf"). Its leaves, seeds, and root are used medicinally, primarily in Asia. It is believed to possess a laxative effect, as well as to be beneficial for the eyes.
The plant's seeds are a source of cassia gum, a food additive usually used as a thickener. As a folk remedy, the seeds are often roasted, then boiled in water to produce a tea. Roasted and ground, the seeds have also been used as a substitute for coffee.
- Chinese: pinyin: jué míng zi (traditional: 決明子; simplified: 决明子)
- Japanese: ebisu-gusa, 夷草
- Korean: gyeolmyeongja (hangul: 결명자; hanja: 決明子)
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Senna obtusifolia
- Cassia Seed page from ENaturalHealthCenter.com site
- Photos from Missouriplants.com site
- Ancient Chinese poem about Senna obtusifolia