Cassia Tree Varieties: 17 Different Cassia Tree Types
There are many different cassia tree varieties to choose for your home or garden space, which means picking one can be confusing. They come in many different shapes and sizes, which means that luckily, you will likely have options no matter the size of the area you are looking to fill. In this article, we take a look at some of the most popular cassia tree types, with names and pictures of each.
Cassia trees are a very resilient species that grow in various climates and are typically mid-sized trees that grow to different heights ranging anywhere from 30 to 200 feet. Some Cassia trees produce edible fruit, while others produce pods that you can turn into a sweetener with nutritional and medicinal benefits.
Those looking to use different parts of the Cassia tree in a nutritional context must be careful and exercise caution. It is advisable to double-check the species of the tree they intend to reap from because some species are known to have toxins in their seeds.
However, most people tend to plant them for their beauty because most popular Cassia trees produce a splendid display of bright yellow flowers when they bloom. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular cassia tree varieties to help identify which ones are the best fit for your home or garden space.
- 1 Apple Blossom Tree
- 2 Bahama Cassia
- 3 Brewster’s Cassia
- 4 Chinese Senna
- 5 Coral Shower
- 6 Desert Cassia
- 7 Golden Shower Tree
- 8 Gold Medallion Tree
- 9 Kenyan Shower
- 10 Long Pod Cassia
- 11 Marimari
- 12 Pink Shower Tree
- 13 Popcorn Cassia
- 14 Rainbow Shower Tree
- 15 Senegal Senna Tree
- 16 The Drumstick Tree
- 17 Yellow Cassia
- 18 Final Thoughts
Apple Blossom Tree
Scientific name: Cassia javanica
The Apple Blossom semi-deciduous tree blooms in the springtime and sheds its leaves in the winter season. It thrives in tropical areas worldwide and grows to a maximum height of around 140 feet.
The tree develops pink flowers during the flowering season, which turn into cylindrical pods containing fruit later. However, most people plant the tree for decorative purposes, not its fruits. Therefore, you will commonly find it in parks and along streets.
Growing them in a row will result in a spectacular carpet of pink petals once a year towards the end of every flowering season, which is quite a sight to behold. This flowering tree variety is a great pick, that will bring plenty of color to your home or yard.
Scientific name: Cassia bahamensis
Bahama Cassia is relatively short but grows very wide for its height. Typically, it peaks at 9 feet in height but can grow outwards to 10 feet in width. It develops tiny bright yellow flowers in the fall, which are aesthetically pleasing when seen next to the dark green leaves, and attract tons of butterflies.
Bahama cassia is typically grown as a hedge border or separating screen. Since it is a very hardy shrub, it quickly rebounds in the spring despite having most of its above-ground tissue die in freezing winter temperatures. Also, it does well in well-drained acidic sandy soil and is drought resistant.
You can propagate the plant using cuttings or seeds, after which it dies out at around five years. Although it has a short lifespan, the plant produces shoots nearby.
However, this is a blessing and a curse because it ensures the continuity of the species but may present an unwanted weed problem in the short term.
Scientific name: Cassia brewsteri
Brewster’s Cassia goes by different names depending on where you are in the world. It is also called Leichhardt bean, Cassia pea, and Bean tree.
The species lends itself very well to landscaping due to its ornate floral displays, which brings a lovely splash of yellow to those looking for some color in their lawns or even public parks.
The plant is almost maintenance-free, so it is perfect for those who have trouble keeping plant friends alive. It requires low amounts of water to survive and is tolerant to heat & aridity.
Scientific name: Senna obtusifolia
Chinese senna, or sicklepod, grows in the wild in North, Central, & South America, Asia, and Africa. Also known as the American sicklepod or coffee pod, it is a short-lived shrub that can grow up to 7 feet tall but is typically shorter than 5 feet.
This particular cassia variety is great as an ornamental plant, and does quite well in more humid climates compared to many of the others on this list. Their yellow flowers offer an incredible contrast color for just about any garden, and they can also withstand hotter temeperatures.
Scientific name: Cassia grandis
The cassia grandis grows to a maximum height of 100 feet. The Cassia variety is mainly found in the southern American regions of Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador and grows freely in forests. It sheds its then withering leaves during the dry winter season, giving way to lovely pink flowers.
Their pink flowers are slightly different than the pink shower tree, as the name suggests. You will see these flowers come into play, with more of a pink to coral color, making them a beautiful addition to just about any garden.
Scientific name: Senna polyphylla
Growing to a maximum of about ten feet tall, the Desert Cassia blooms in the spring and the fall. It is evergreen but tends to lose some leaves in extreme winter conditions. Also, it is salt tolerant, which means it would grow well in the salt-laden coastal air.
You can grow the tree in any region 1000 feet and below in altitude. However, it must have sunny exposure to ensure the most elaborate flowering.
While often grown as an ornamental, Senna polyphylla some people harvest the tree from the wild to use its wood as fence posts or fuel. Upon seeing how resilient this particular species is, one immediately understands how it got its name.
Golden Shower Tree
Scientific name: Cassia fistula
As a late bloomer in the spring, the golden shower tree gets its name from its exorbitantly large displays of yellow flowers. It is also known as the purging cassia, Indian laburnum, or pudding-pipe tree.
In addition to their beauty, these trees are edible and sometimes used as food by people in India. You can also use the leaves of this Cassia variety to improve the quality of diets for goats, sheep, and cows.
Here’s a fun fact: the fistula also serves yet another purpose as Thailand’s official tree and official flower.
Gold Medallion Tree
Scientific name: Cassia leptophylla
Most of the cassia trees on this list bloom once a year. However, the gold medallion tree is different as its yellow flowers bloom at scattered periods throughout the year.
The tree has a relatively thin trunk with low branches and reddish-brown bark structurally. It can survive with occasional to little irrigation, striking a perfect balance of beauty and maintenance. It can survive in a variety of different climates, and is a hardy tree even in hotter areas of the world.
Scientific name: Cassia afrofistula
Also known as the Kenyan Cassia or African Cassia, this tree got its name as a reference to its origins, which is Kenya. Its flowers appear in bright yellow panicles growing in a pyramid formation, and they bloom during spring and summer.
The species peaks at 7 feet in height and is remarkably resilient since it grows in a wide range of soil types.
Even though you can use Cassia afrofistula in a streetscape, garden, patio, or park setting, it is advisable to handle the parts of this tree with care because they can cause skin irritation for some handlers.
The seed pods it produces are dark and grow in stark contrast to its beautiful flowers. For this reason, it is common practice to prune the tree after it flowers to prevent the unattractive pods from developing.
Long Pod Cassia
Scientific name: Cassia abbreviata
The Long pod cassia is native to Africa and is also known as the Long-tailed Cassia or the Sjambok pod. It flowers in the dry season and grows to a maximum height of 50 feet. This tree is more common in Africa than other areas of the world, and is very heat tolerant.
Unfortunately, its popularity has had the unintended effect of deforestation. In Botswana specifically, the bark scraping and excessive root digging have left many Long Pod Cassia trees dead.
As such, the recommended removal of these plant parts, if necessary, should be done away from the trunk. The goal is to ensure the preservation of the tree.
Scientific name: Cassia leiandra
Cassia leiandra thrives in the forests of floodplains near canals and lagoons and is a common tree in Eastern and northern Brazil. It can grow to anywhere between 19 and 45 feet in height.
Marimari is a unique species because it cannot grow in the shade and prefers wet soil. However, it is pretty resilient and can grow in very acidic soils. It is also known to attract wildlife.
Scientific name: Cassia bakeriana
Native to Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), the Pink Shower Tree blooms in the spring, creating flowers maturing from pink to white flowered trees eventually. These velvety flowers are like fodder for bees and butterflies; thus, these insects constantly appear around them.
Fans of these gorgeous pink flowers will be glad to know that this tree has a relatively long blooming period. Usually, it lasts four weeks, but a well-cared-for pink shower tree can bloom for up to two months.
While being perfect for ornamental purposes due to its striking beauty, this tree isn’t very demanding. Just ensure that it gets tons of sunlight and good drainage wherever you plant it.
The only caveat when caring for the tree is that it is completely intolerant of frost. However, if you take good care of it, the tree stands at 20 to 30 feet tall at full maturity.
Scientific name: Senna didymobotrya. Previously Cassia didymobotrya
Also known as African senna, popcorn senna, candelabra tree, or peanut butter cassia, the Popcorn Cassia is native to Eastern and Central Africa.
The tree is a semi-deciduous shrub with multiple branches that reaches a typical height of 16 feet. It gets its name from its powerful scent, which most describe as similar to burnt popcorn or peanut butter.
Popcorn cassia thrives in the heat and humidity of the summer, and you must provide it with ample water while maintaining regular fertilization to promote maximum growth and flowering. Its striking black buds contrast wonderfully against its yellow flowers, bringing life to any garden.
In some of Kenya’s Nilotic communities, the people strip the tree’s bark, dry it, then char it and use the charred material to coat gourds. They then use these gourds to store fermented milk.
Rainbow Shower Tree
Scientific name: Cassia x nealiae
While the word rainbow isn’t entirely accurate as used in the description of this tree, it certainly is beautiful. It is a medium-to-large tropical tree that grows to around 40 ft, and most people commonly plant it for its beauty along streets and in parks in tropical regions.
The majestic tropical tree grows long yellow to pink clusters of flowers, which are not exactly a whole rainbow.
It is important to note that the rainbow shower tree is sterile, meaning the flowers do not produce seeds. Therefore, you can only reproduce it through the process of grafting. The tree is popularly grown in Honolulu, so much so that it became the city’s official tree in 1965.
Senegal Senna Tree
Scientific name: Senna italica
Senegal senna thrives in a wide range of soil types and climates and can survive unprecedented levels of water stress. For this reason, it is considered an invasive species in some parts of the world.
Also known as Port Royal senna or Italian senna, the rest of the world mainly cultivates the tree for commercial purposes. It can survive in a wide variety of climates and does well even in hotter desert like climates. While it does better with average moisture levels, it can survive in areas with less access to water.
The Drumstick Tree
Scientific name: Cassia sieberiana
The Drumstick tree, or West African laburnum, peaks at 33 to 65 feet in height and grows in different clusters on the African continent. In most cases, you will find it in the southern part of the Sahel, Senegal, Uganda, Sudan, and East Africa.
Drumstick trees grow best in well-drained soils and typically grow in groups of other plants, very rarely growing alone. One of the most popular uses for the branches of this tree is for teeth cleaning. Locals usually chew the twigs until one end gets frayed and then use it as a toothbrush.
Cassia sieberiana produces tough wood that is handy in multiple areas. It is resistant to termites, making it suitable for construction and fencing. The hardwood is also good for making pestles and mortars.
Image credit: Farid Amadou Bahleman via Creative Commons (use allowed with attribution)
Scientific name: Cassia siamea lam.
Overhanging branches with yellow flower heads characterize the Yellow Cassia. It can adapt to nutrient-sparse sandy soils while maintaining rapid growth. For this reason, the most common use for the tree is to regenerate areas that have undergone heavy erosion in warmer regions.
Aside from that, the tree produces rare hardwood, often with beautiful patterns that would be perfect for furniture.
In coffee plantations, the yellow cassia tree also provides shade because it has broad leaves. It is also popular with bees due to the high volume of flowers it produces, making it a staple on beekeeping farms. Therefore, you can use the tree to combine coffee farming and beekeeping.
The cassia family of trees and shrubs is very expansive, and each species has multiple uses ranging from decoration, fencing, food, antifungal applications, and laxatives. As shown in the examples above, most of them are also very resilient.
There are many other Cassia species, and unfortunately, it is not possible to cover everything in this article. So, there is more to learn and find out about the trees, their properties, toxicity, side effects, and contraindications.