Cassia fistula

Cassia fistula, commonly known as golden shower,[3] purging cassia,[4] Indian laburnum,[5] or pudding-pipe tree,[6] is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. The species is native to the Indian subcontinent and adjacent regions of Southeast Asia, from southern Pakistan through India and Sri Lanka to Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand. It is a popular ornamental plant and is also used in herbal medicine.

Cassia fistula
Golden shower tree in bloom
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Genus: Cassia
C. fistula
Binomial name
Cassia fistula
  • 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
Blossomed golden shower tree


The golden shower tree is a medium-sized tree, growing to 10–20 m (33–66 ft) tall with fast growth. The leaves are deciduous, 15–60 cm (6–24 in) long, and pinnate with three to eight pairs of leaflets, each leaflet 7–21 cm (3–8 in) long and 4–9 cm (1+123+12 in) broad. The flowers are produced in pendulous racemes 20–40 cm (8–16 in) long, each flower 4–7 cm (1+582+34 in) diameter with five yellow petals of equal size and shape. The fruit is a legume, 30–60 cm (12–24 in) long and 1.5–2.5 cm (916–1 in) broad, with a pungent odor and containing several seeds. The tree has strong and very durable wood, and has been used to construct "Ehela Kanuwa", a site at Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka, which is made of C. fistula (ahala, ehela, or aehaela, ඇහැල in Sinhala [7]) heartwood. The golden shower tree is not a nitrogen fixer.[8]


Cassia fistula is widely grown as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas. It blooms in late spring/earlysummer in hot, dry weather. Flowering is profuse, with trees being covered with yellow flowers, many times with almost no leaf being seen. It grows well in dry climates. Growth for this tree is best in full sun on well-drained soil; it is relatively drought-tolerant and slightly salt-tolerant. It will tolerate light brief frost, but can get damaged if the cold persists. It can be subject to mildew or leaf spot, especially during the second half of the growing season. The tree blooms better with pronounced differences between summer and winter temperatures.[9]

Pollinators and seed dispersal

Various species of bees and butterflies are known to be pollinators of C. fistula flowers, especially carpenter bees (Xylocopa sp.).[10] In 1911, Robert Scott Troup conducted an experiment to determine how the seeds of C. fistula are dispersed. He found that golden jackals feed on the fruits and help in seed dispersal.[11]



In India, flowers of the golden shower tree are sometimes eaten by people. The leaves have also been used to supplement the diets of cattle, sheep, and goats fed with low-quality forages.[12]


In Ayurvedic medicine, the golden shower tree is known as aragvadha, meaning "disease killer". The fruit pulp is considered a purgative,[13][14] and self-medication or any use without medical supervision is strongly advised against in Ayurvedic texts. Though it has been used in herbalism for millennia, little research has been conducted in modern times, although it is an ingredient in some mass-produced herbal laxatives. When used as such, it is known as "cassia pods".[6]

In India, a cathartic made from the pulp is sometimes added to tobacco.[15]

A paste of the flowers is used as an ointment for pimples.


Cassia fistula is both the national tree and national flower of Thailand – in Thai ratchaphruek (Thai: ราชพฤกษ์) and the blossoms commonly referred to as dok khun (Thai: ดอกคูน).[16] Its yellow flowers symbolize Thai royalty. A 2006–2007 flower festival, the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, was named after the tree. Cassia fistula is also featured on a 2003 joint Canadian-Thai design for a 48-cent stamp, part of a series featuring national emblems.[9]

The Indian laburnum is the state flower of Kerala. The flowers are of ritual importance in the Vishu festival of Kerala.[17] The tree has been depicted on a 20-rupee stamp. The tree is frequently cultivated in Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka where the Sinhala name is Ehela, ඇහැල.[18]

In Laos, its blooming flowers known locally as dok khoun are associated with the Lao New Year. People use the flowers as offerings at the temple and also hang them in their homes for the New Year in belief that the flowers will bring happiness and good luck to the households.[19]

The laburnum is the school tree of National Taiwan Normal University, thought to be because of the seed pods' similarity to the whips used by teachers in times past.[20]


  1. Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) & IUCN SSC Global Tree Specialist Group (2018). "Cassia fistula". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T136142327A136142329. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  2. "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  3. USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Cassia fistula". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  4. BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  5. "Cassia fistula". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  6. U. S. Department of Agriculture, William Saunders; Catalogue of Economic Plants in the Collection of the U. S. Department of Agriculture; Washington D. C.; June 5, 1891
  7. sinhala botany website
  8. Datiles, Marianne Jennifer; Acevedo-Rodríguez, Pedro. "Cassia fistula (Indian laburnum)". Invasive Species Compendium (ISC). CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International).
  9. "Cassia Fistula (aburnum, Purging Fistula, Golden Shower, Amaltas)", Ayurveda - Herbs, 4 to 40, archived from the original on 2011-07-14, retrieved 2011-01-20
  10. Murali, KS (1993) Differential reproductive success in Cassia fistula in different habitats—A case of pollinator limitations? In: Current Science (Bangalore), 65 (3). pp. 270-272.
  11. Troup, R.S. (1911).Silviculture of Indian Trees. Published under the authority of His Majesty's Secretary of State for India in Council. Oxford Clarendon Press
  12. Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2018. Golden tree (Cassia fistula). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.
  13. Pole, Sebastian (2012). Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Singing Dragon. p. 129. ISBN 978-1848191136. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  14. Bhagwan Dash, Vaidya (2002). Materia Medica Of Ayurveda. India: B. Jain. pp. 41–42. ISBN 9788170214939. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  15. Hargreaves, Dorothy; Hargreaves, Bob (1970). Tropical Trees of the Pacific. Kailua, Hawaii: Hargreaves. p. 14.
  16. "ASEAN National Flowers". Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Archived from the original on 20 January 2012.
  17. "State Flower Golden shower". ENVIS Hub: Kerala. Retrieved 25 May 2022.
  18. "Botany Plant-names → Sinhala Plant names උද්භිද නම් → සිංහල නම්".
  19. Lao NEWS on LNTV: When the golden shower trees, known as Dok Khoun in Laos blossom.17/4/2014
  20. "School tree". NTNU University Archives. Retrieved 2022-11-14.
  • Media related to Cassia fistula at Wikimedia Commons
  • Database on state of environment, Kerala (2008): Kerala Symbols
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