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Local Native; Mojave Desert
This upright shrubby yellow wildflower is native to the Mojave Desert, southern Nevada, and Arizona in the United States, and northern Baja California in Mexico. It is found on desert plains and in sandy washes. Is very common in Joshua Tree National Park, and is also found in the Sonoran Desert. It grows to 2-5 feet tall, and has green or gray-green paired leaves, rounded around the edges and often pointed at the tips. In its native habitat, it can be leafless most of the year. Yellow flowers are quite showy; the fruit is a dry pod, a round cylinder that splits open when mature to release seeds. Prefers well draining soils. Desert Senna fits in patios, butterfly gardens or poolside.
A spring and summer bloomer known for attracting birds and especially butterflies this is a perfect addition to your wildlife habitat. This species is especially favored by the Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) caterpillars. The leaves and even the petals will be eaten by certain insects.
Cassia (=Senna) species are known to attract the following butterflies and/or their caterpillars;
Tailed Orange, Pyrisitia proterpia
Orange-barred Sulphur, Phoebis philea
Mercurial Skipper, Proteides mercurius
Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae
Sleepy Sulfur, Eurema nicippe
In addition, according to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, "Plant Care Information" notice, Sulphur, Hairstreak and Blue butterflies are attracted to all of the Sennas.
Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information
The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others!
Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.
Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.