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A Comprehensive Guide to American Senna (Senna marilandica)

American Senna (Senna marilandica) is found in open areas that have full sun and are well drained. Senna has yellow flowers that bloom in the summer and fall. It is the host plant for three species of butterflies. This plant can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Taxonomy and History of American Senna (Senna marilandica)

Herbarium specimen of Maryland senna (Senna marilandica).
Herbarium Specimen — Senna marilandica (L.) Link collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)


American Senna (Senna marilandica) was originally described by Carl Von Linnaeus as Cassia marilandica in 1753 in Species Plantarum. The genus name was later changed in 1831 by Johann Link, a German botanist to Senna. This species is a member of the Legume Family (Fabaceae).

American Senna Description and Alternative Names

Yellow flowers of Maryland Senna (Senna marilandica).
Maryland Senna with Yellow Flowers — Senna marilandica (L.) Link observed in United States of America by mefisher (licensed under CC0 1.0)


American Senna is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows from 3 to 6 feet tall. The leaves are compound with oblong to oval entire leaflets that range from 1 to 3 inches in length and up to 2 inches in width.

Alternative Names

This plant is also known by Maryland Senna, Southern Wild Senna, Wild Senna (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center), and Maryland Wild Sensitive plant (Biota of North America Program).

Range and Habitat

Range of Maryland senna (Senna marilandica) in the United States and Canada.


This species is found in eastern North America from Texas north to Nebraska and east.


It is generally found in open areas that are well drained. In gardens it likes places that are sunny well-drained conditions.

Cloudless sulphur butterfly on a white background.
Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly — Meganmccarty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Bumblebee on pink flower.
Bumblebee on Flower — Joaquim Alves Gaspar, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Host Species

American Senna is the host plant for the cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae), the orange-barred sulphur (Phoebis philea), and the sleepy orange (Eurema nicippe).

Other Wildlife Value

This plant provides nectar for bumblebees and the fruits are food for birds.

Interesting Facts

The species name, marilandica, means of Maryland (Missouri Botanical Garden).

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