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Butterfly Gardening and Habitat Program

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Mexican Senna - Senna mexicana var. chapmanii

Other common names for this plant include Chapman's wild sensitive plant, Bahama senna.

Native in the United States only to southern Florida, Mexican senna is a woody shrub that grows in pine rocklands and rockland hammocks. While other non-native sennas are available for purchase in south Florida, some are quick to escape cultivation and become invasive (such as Christmas senna, Senna pendula) and displacing native plants. Mexican senna is identified from other sennas by its woody stems.

To make matters ever so slightly more confusing, the scientific names of this plant, Senna mexicana var. chapmanii, has in the past been Cassia bahamensis, with its english name appearing as Bahama cassia. Different name, same plant.

Mexican senna provides year round bright yellow blooms, with heaviest flowering in the fall and winter months. It is available at native plant nurseries; it is also easily propagated from seed.

Importance as a caterpillar food source: Cloudless Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and Orange-barred Sulphur caterpillars all use Mexican senna as a food source.

Importance as a butterfly nectar source: Be the first to rate the importance of Mexican senna as a nectar source!

Mexican Senna Cultural Requirements
USDA Hardiness Zone Plant annually
Bloom Period All year
Bloom Color Bright yellow
Plant Height 4 feet
Plant Spread 6 feet wide
Light Exposure Full sun to light shade
Soil Moisture moist, well drained; moderate drought tolerance
Animal/Disease Problems None. Low salt and salt water tolerance.





Mexican Senna (Senna mexicana)

Native range of Mexican Senna (Senna mexicana)


The current rating for Mexican Senna is:

Nectar Rating
Caterpillar Rating

If you have experience growing Mexican senna, we would like your opinion. Let us know how it performed in your butterfly garden. Your comments will help other butterfly gardeners in your region to create better butterfly gardens:






©2008 North American Butterfly Association