Coffee Senna

Senna occidentalis

Fabaceae (Legume family)


Coffee senna is an erect, smooth, hairless, foul-smelling annual growing 2 to 6 feet tall.

Its ascending, branching stem has spirally arranged compound leaves with four to six pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are oval and lance shaped with pointed tips.

The linear seedpods are 4 to 6 inches long, tend to be erect and contain numerous compressed, dull brown or dull green seeds.


Coffee senna is found in East and South Texas and extends east to Florida and north to Virginia. It usually grows in sandy or loamy disturbed soil, often in colonies around pens or shade trees rather than uniformly distributed over a pasture.

Signs of Livestock Ingestion

Clinical signs of affected animals include: Diarrhea; Weakness; "Alert downers" - not depressed, will eat, but unable to rise; Dark urine; Death.

Once an animal is down, it generally will not recover, even though it is bright-eyed and continues to eat and drink.

Management Strategies

The best prevention is to eliminate the plants from a pasture to be used for cattle after frost.

Mechanical removal (pulling) is quite effective in many instances, as the plants are often confined to small areas. When larger areas are involved, use of pasture may need to be deferred.