Botanical Name: Cassia alata
Synonyms: Cassia alata var. perennis Pamp., Cassia alata var. rumphiana DC.
Common Name: Candle Bush, Candelabra Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Ringworm Tree or candletree
Seeds collection period: Sep- Oct
Seeds longevity: 1-2 year
Cassia alata is native to Mexico, and can be found in diverse habitats. In the tropics, it grows up to an altitude of 1,200 m. It is an invasive species in Austronesia. In Sri Lanka, known as Ranawara , it is used as an ingredient in Sinhala traditional medicine.
The shrub stands 3-4 m tall, with leaves 50-80 cm long. The inflorescence looks like a yellow candle. The fruit, shaped like a straight pod, is up to 25 cm long. Its seeds are distributed by water or animals. The leaves close in the dark.
Cassia alata is often called the ringworm bush because of its very effective fungicidal properties, for treating ringworm and other fungal infections of the skin. The leaves are ground in a mortar to obtain a kind of "green cotton wool". This is mixed with the same amount of vegetable oil and rubbed on the affected area two or three times a day. A fresh preparation is made every day. Its active ingredients include the yellow chrysophanic acid.