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Cassia fistula L.

Botanical Name

Cassia fistula L. 


Bactyrilobium fistula Willd., Cassia bonplandiana DC., Cassia excelsa Kunth, Cassia fistuloides Collad., Cassia rhombifolia Roxb., Cathartocarpus excelsus G.Don, Cathartocarpus fistula Pers., Cathartocarpus fistuloides (Collad.) G.Don, Cathartocarpus rhombifolius G.Don [2] 


Leguminosae [2]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Bereksa, tengguli, rajah kayu, dulang [5] 
English Golden showers, midas tree, purging cassia, purging fistula, Indian laburnum, golden rain, pudding-pipe tree [3]
Indonesia Keyok, klohur, klohor, peyok, piyok, tangguli, tengguli, trengguli (Javanese); bobondelan, bumbungdelan, bondel, tanggoli (Sundan) [5]
Thailand Kun, raja pruk, chaiya pruk [5].


Cassia fistula is a member of the Leguminosae family. It is a perennial tree that could reach up to 20 m high. The bark is smooth, coloured grey; stems erect; and branchlets ridged with corky spots. The leaves are 1-pinnately compound, 15-60 cm long, 3-8 paired leaflets with no terminal leaflet. The leaflets are ovate to lanceolate, apex acuminate and base cuneate with stipules subulate measuring 1-2 mm long. The inflorescences are pendulous racemes and 20-40 cm long. The bracts and bracteoles are subulate cordate. The flowers are showy and symmetry but slightly bilateral, have five petals, pale to bright yellow, ovate elliptic to orange or red. The sepals are five, free, overlapping, unequal in size, coloured brown or pink and villous. The legumes are cylindrical, 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter and 30-60 cm long, black, hirsute or subglabrous and divided into compartments. The seeds are numerous [1].


C. fistula is native of India and is distributed in tropical Central and South America, Southeast Asia, Northern Australia and the Pacific Islands. It has been introduced into North America as ornamentals. [1]

Plant Use

The spread of the C. fistula tree from its native origins i.e. India and Sri Lanka from ancient times had been attributed to its varied medicinal uses. Today, this plant is planted as shade tree by many townships especially in the tropical region. 

The ripe pod and seeds are used as laxative, as a remedy for malaria, blood poisoning, anthrax and dysentery. The fruit pulp is a remedy for renal stones and a vermifuge. The bark had been used for fractures and tropical ulcers. The heartwood is an anthelmintic while the roots help in purifying wounds and ulcers [4].

Toxic Parts

Fruits and seeds [1] [3].


The fruit pulp of C. fistula contains emodin glycoside which is an anthraquinone. This is known to cause digestive tract irritation [1] [3].

Risk Management

No documentation

Clinical Findings

Clinical signs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, colic and dehydration. C. fistula causes only digestive tract and does not cause muscular weakness. Emodin can also cause a change in the colour of urine test which is yellowish brown in acid urine or violet in basic urine. [1] [3]


Treatment is directed towards alleviating the digestive tract effects. This may necessitate the administration of intravenous rehydration therapy, antiemetics and electrolyte replacement in severe cases especially in children  [1] [3].


  1. Burrows GE, Tyri RJ. Toxic plants of North America. Ames, Iowa: John Wiley & Sons; 2013. p. 532-533.
  2. The Plant List. Cassia fistula L. Ver 1.1. c2013 [cited 2014 August 27]. Available from:
  3. Nelson LS, Shih RD, Balick MJ. Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2007. p. 110-112.
  4. Schmelzer GH, Gurib-Fakim A. plant resources of Tropical Africa Volume 11– Medicinal Plants. Wageningen: PROTA; 2008. p. 146-148.
  5. Burkill IH. A dictionary economic products of the Malay Peninsula Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Malaysia:1966. p.481-482.

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