Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Cassia fistula Linnaeus

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Fabales
Family:Fabaceae
Genus:Cassia
Species:C. fistula
Common Names:Golden Shower Tree
Status:Cultivated only

Description

A deciduous tree of up to 10 m high, it has an open and irregular crown. Leaves are simple pinnate and alternately arranged, 40-60 cm long, with 3-8 pairs of opposite but no terminal leaflet. Leaflets are broadly ovate, 9-18 x 5-8 cm, with pointed tips and rounded bases. At irregular intervals, the tree sheds its leaves following which the flowers appear together with the new leaves. But under conditions of prolonged droughts, all trees shed their leaves and flower gregariously. Flowers are bisexual, golden yellow and in long hanging bunches. Fruits are cylindrical pods, 40-60 x 2-3 cm, woody, green turning black with maturity. Each pod contains many seeds embedded in a sticky sweet pulp, each being partitioned from the next. Pods do not split open on ripening.

So far, only the Tanimbar Corella (Cacatua goffini) has been documented feeding on the fruits in Singapore.

Read more about the Fabales order.
Read more about the Fabaceae family.

Distribution

Native to South Asia, including India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, this tree is now widely grown throughout the tropics.

Localities

Found throughout Singapore.

Human Uses

This is an attractive tree with its hanging bunches of yellow flowers, commonly grown in gardens and along roadsides. The branches, leaves and seeds are reported to be poisonous. The pulp between the seeds are used in traditional medicine as a laxative. It is also mixed with tobacco and smoked in India. Leaves and roots can cause purging while the bark gives a red dye.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 1990. A guide to the wayside trees of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. (2nd ed.) 160 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 1992.  A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.

Wee, Y. C. 2003. Tropical trees and shrubs - A selection for urban plantings. Sun Tree Pub., Singapore. 392pp.

Wee, Y.C. 2005. Plants that heal, thrill and kill. SNP Reference, Singapore. 172pp.

Related Images

Spot any errors? Have any questions? Something to contribute? Email us at dbsthh@nus.edu.sg!
Presented by

NUS      RMBR
Sponsored by

Care-for-Nature