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Cassia alata 7 Golden candlesticks Gelenggang Leguminosa

Cassia alata, 7 Golden candlesticks, Leguminosae, Gelenggang

Cassia alata, 7 Golden candlesticks, Leguminosae, Gelenggang

The attractive shrub is named for its flower buds which grow in a column and look like fat yellow candles each complete with a flame! The leaves fold together at night. It was introduced to other tropical areas from the Americas and is now widely considered a weed. Flowers: Buds covered with orange bracts which fall off when the flower opens.
Fruits: Black pod with two broad wings; seeds small square and rattle in the pod when ripe.
Traditional medicinal uses: Leaves or sap are used to treat fungal infections such as ringworm. They contain a fungicide, chrysophanic acid. Because of its anti-fungal properties, it is a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos and lotions in the Philippines. The effectiveness of this plant against skin diseases is confirmed by modern scientific studies.
Other chemicals contained in the plant includes saponin which acts as a laxative and expels intestinal parasites. In Africa, the boiled leaves are used to treat high-blood pressure. In South America, besides skin diseases, it is also used to treat a wide range of ailments from stomach problems, fever, asthma to snake bite and venereal diseases (syphilis, gonorrhoea).
Role in the habitat: It is the food plant of some butterflies. The plant recruits ant bodyguards against these caterpillars. It has "extrafloral nectaries" near the base of the leaves, that produce sweet nectar to attract ants.