Alternative common names:
Smooth senna, yellow shower, buttercup bush.
The arsenic bush is a poisonous shrub that can grow up to 2-3m tall with yellow flowers. The leaves are arranged in pairs opposite each other, consisting of three or four pairs of ovate leaflets. The pods are cylindrical, 7-10cm long, containing shiny seeds. It is a common garden ornamental plant that also invades forest margins, savannah, riverbanks, roadsides, waste ground and plantations. It flowers from October to March.
Where does this species come from?Mexico and Central America.
What is its invasive status in South Africa?NEMBA Category 1b
Where in South Africa is it a problem?Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
How does it spread?This plant spreads by reseeding itself, but seeds may contaminate soil and garden waste.
Why is it a problem?
The arsenic bush invades forest margins, savannah, riverbanks, roadsides, waste ground and plantations, where it establishes itself and suppresses the regeneration of desirable species.It is also poisonous.
What does it look like?
Leaves: Leaves are arranged in pairs opposite each other, consisting of three or four pairs of ovate leaflets.
Flowers: Its yellow flowers have five petals and six or seven fully-formed stamens, two of which are larger than the others. Flowers appear from October to March.
Fruit/seeds: Has cylindrical pods which are 5-10cm long and 7-12mm wide, usually borne in an upright position on stiff stalks.
Does the plant have any uses?
Medicinal plant among some communities in Kenya. It is also a popular garden plant.