MY INTRODUCTION TO CASSIA: SENNA COFFEE
When I was a little girl – about four years old, I used to get the Jamaican dandelion plant confused with Jerusalem peas all the time. You see, the leaves and bean pods appeared to have very similar features, though they are not related. Fortunately for me, my grandmother was there to teach me the differences between and these and many other plants around our home. She also taught me their benefits and uses and her garden is still home to many cassia senna coffee plants to this day. In fact, the images in this article were taken in her garden and I’m delighted to share them and the knowledge I’ve gained concerning these golden treasures with you.
JAMAICAN DANDELION: ONE OF THE RAREST AND MOST DESIRED SUPERFOODS
Long before my dynasty, cassia and her more than six hundred species have been used as natural medicine – her roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds employed to remedy ailments around the world. The Jamaican dandelion is one to be marveled at though. It’s been lauded as one treasure to have all useful parts. The leaves, stems, seeds and flowers are used traditionally in the kitchen, in therapy, and for a host of medicinal purposes.
CASSIA SENNA USES & BENEFITS
The senna coffee seeds are ground and brewed into a beverage that’s reminiscent of coffee with a sweeter flavor and no harmful side-effects. This brew gives hard-working Jamaicans a boost in energy as they start their day and has been used to quell asthma as well. The gorgeous showers of golden flowers are soothing to the senses in more ways than one. An infusion from the blooms has been used to treat bronchitis. The roots are considered a diuretic. In fact, all parts of the lovely plant have been used to treat fevers, menstrual problems, tuberculosis, anemia, liver complaints, urinary tract disorders, edema and as a tonic for general weakness and illness. The leaves can also be used topically to reduce inflammation, soothe burning and to expel skin disorders, wounds, skin fungus, parasitic skin diseases, abscesses, and as a topical analgesic herb.
Jamaican dandelion plants average six to eight feet. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that they love warmer climatic conditions. Be sure to choose a home that allows your plants lots of sunlight. They can’t possibly have too much of that. Plant your cassia senna coffee in rich, loamy soil. If you’ve read any of my articles then you know my favorite recommendation. Mix sand, sawdust, humus and manure evenly and plant your senna coffee seeds half an inch deep. You’ll have sprouts within two weeks – often within as little as five days.
One of the best qualities about this plant that makes it so desirable is that it doesn’t require very much attention to thrive once the ideal conditions exist. There is no pruning, cutting, staking, training, guiding or repotting involved. Simply provide water and watch it grow into an elegant work of art, sprouting sprays of gold from the stems. The flowers promise a generous giving of skinny, long, green pods that gradually turn brown as seeds mature. All of this happens in under six months! Now you can harvest seeds and enjoy.