Cassia roxburghii (Red Shower Cassia)

A person could almost feel sorry for the genus Cassia. Once very sizable, it has been sliced and diced by reclassification since 1982. At roughly 100 species now, it is but a shadow of its former self. However, some very formidable ornamental species remain in Cassia. One of those is C. roxburghii, f/k/a C. marginata.

Known as the Red Shower Cassia, C. roxburghii is native to Sri Lanka and southern India, where it matures to between 49 and 66 ft. tall. Although, as frequently observed in southern Florida, our poor soils reduce its height somewhat, the Red Shower Cassia is still taller than many of the other Cassias. As a legume, this species has compound pinnate leaves, and it bears its seeds in pods. The twigs of this tree are covered with fine hairs.

While the dominant floral color in the genus Cassia is yellow, C. roxburghii features flowers that are in the red/pink/rose spectrum. Though individual flowers are not very large, they are held in clusters so numerous at the peak of blooming that the spreading tree becomes a sea of color.

The Red Shower Cassia is not just another pretty face. In addition to its great ornamental value, it also has interesting medicinal properties. For instance, an extract from its leaves possesses proven wound-healing properties. Leaves also contain some anti-oxidant properties. And its seeds yield anthraquinone glycosides, compounds that can be processed into anti-inflammatory medications.

C. roxburghii is not a demanding tree. It grows and flowers well in full sun or partial shade, and it will thrive where regular watering is combined with good drainage. Richard Lyons’ Nursery carries this very decorative species in 3-gal. containers.

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