Gardening
in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna / Woolly Senna

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Description
Form: Herb.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: This wildflower dies to the ground in winter, leaving dry brown stalks and persistent seed pods. It normally reappears mid to late spring but can be induced to leaf out early, with regular water, starting late winter.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 3-6' high and wide.
Flowers: Five oval shaped, vivid yellow petals, and two enlarged, curved, lower stamens. The petals open wide in the morning and partially close by dusk to form a ball. No nectar is produced.
Bloom: Repeatedly, throughout summer, usually after the start of summer rains, or with irrigation.
Fruit: Slender, arced, cylindrical pods, 6" long or more, containing dark brown pellet-like seeds in a single row. The pods remain after leaves have dropped in the fall.
Leaves: Dark green, lance-shaped, medium-sized, hairless leaflets. In dry soil, the leaflets tend to rotate their petioles (stems) so their surface is nearly vertical to the ground and sun exposure is reduced. The petioles, when rotated, can also bend so the leaflet is nearly parallel to the stalk.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Nitrogen-fixing*, with a taproot.
Wildlife: Attracts several species of sulphur butterflies, small ants, and lizards searching for ants. While female butterflies investigate this plant as a potential caterpillar host plant, it is seldom chosen. The butterflies seem attracted to an aroma given off by the leaves, undetectable to humans. This plant may be pollinated by small ants. Harvester ants are known to cut off the leaves of this plant when it is frequently watered during a drought and is near to their nest.
Toxic / Danger: There are non-specific reports of this plant being toxic to animals which eat the leaves.
Origin: Arizona, New Mexico, and tropical and subtropical Americas.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-9.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Water once established: Monthly. Tolerates frequent watering.
Soil: Well drained, pH 6.6-7.8 (neutral to slightly alkaline). *Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Prune: In winter, cut to ground, except keep one short central stalk to mark location of roots.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed.
Uses: Ornamental.

Comments
A very showy desert plant.



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Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna - flower mid-morning
Flower mid morning

Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna - flowers mid-afternoon
Flowers mid to late afternoon

Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna - flowers at dusk
Flowers at dusk

Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna - seed pods

Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna - leaflets
Leaflets with insufficient water

Senna hirsuta v. glaberrima: Slimpod Senna
Plant with sufficient water