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Senna splendida

Senna splendida
Flowers late August
showy senna; golden wonder
Buds finally develop mid-August
Senna splendida
In glorious bloom mid-September

Common name showy senna; golden wonder
Family fabaceae
Life cycle shrub/tree (Z9-11)
Flowers yellow (fall-winter)
Size 9-12'
Light sun
Cultural notes well drained soil; drought tolerant
From seed self-seeds in our garden

Large semi-evergreen shrub (may be trained as a small tree) featuring bright yellow flowers in fall. The blooms are offset by glossy green leaves on drooping branches. Popular with pollinators, and plays host to caterpillars of several sulphur butterfly species (although we haven't encountered those yet). Despite its hardiness rating to zone 9, it didn't seem the least bit bothered by a winter freeze into the mid-teens in 2018. Instead, it grew amazingly robust in just a single season, turning into a voluminous shrub with a glorious floral display by September. The flowers are followed by bean-like seed pods. The next few years, volunteer seedlings started to appear near the mother plant; I mostly let them be, which was a good thing: the more severe freeze of 2021 killed the mother plant dead, but the younger plants all seemed to survive, ensuring the species' survival in our suburban garden.

showy senna; golden wonder
Just after planting, still scraggly – it wouldn't stay like that for long
Senna splendida
Teeming with beans in late October
showy senna; golden wonder
Flower buds in late April – acting out of sync
Senna splendida
In the aftermath of the '21 freeze: the mother plant a lifeless stump, while its seedlings thrive nearby
One unfortunate feature of this plant (at least our specimen) is its tendency to dramatically flop right around the time it's in full bloom. The photo below left shows the plant as it is starting to bloom in mid-September, nicely upright. The one at right was taken about a month later, after the majority of the shrub had deposited itself on the adjacent stretch of lawn. This has happened a few years in a row now, despite severely cutting back the plant after flowering each fall in an attempt to encourage sturdy base growth. I don't know if it's the weight from the seedpods or just the natural habit. As long as I remember not to plant anything I care about in front of it, I can live with it for a few weeks out of the year.

showy senna; golden wonder
Senna splendida

In our garden, this plant grows in the following areas: left fence border, houston front yard

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