Senna: Biological sources, Medicinal Uses, Morphological Features, and MCQs

Senna: Biological sources, Medicinal Uses, Morphological Features, and MCQs


1. Biological Sources:

• The botanical name of senna Cassia senna L.
• The biological source of senna is dried leaflets of it.
• It belongs to the leguminosae plant family.
• It is also known as senna leaf, sennae folium, tinnevelly senna.

2. Morphological Features:

• The shape of leaves are lanceole .
• Leaves are entire, apex is acute with a spine at the top.
• Leaflets have asymmetrical base with transverse lines.
• Transverse lines are more prominent on lower surface.
• On leaves, trichomes are present on both the surface.
• The color of leaves are yellowish-green.
• Odour is slight and unpleasant.
• The taste of leaves are mucilaginous, bitter and characteristic.
• The size of of leaves are 7 to 8 mm in width and 25 to 60 mm in length.
• These plants are small shrubs which grows upto 1 m of height.
• Its leaflets bear stout petiolules.
• Lamina of leaves have entire margin.
• The surface of leaves are pubescent.
• These shrubs are low branching shrubs and it have a straight woody stem .
• The color of flowers ate yellow.

3. Chemical Constituents:

• The chief chemical constituents of seena are 2 anthraquinone glycosides which is known as crystalline sennoside A and sennoside B, which is present less than 2.5%.
• Rhein and aloe- emodin is present in senna.
• Sennoside A and sennoside B are stereo isomers of each other.
• In sennoside A ,aglycone is present in dextro – rotatory form and in sennoside B, aglycone is present in meso form.
• Two naphthalene glycosides are also present in senna leaves.
• Calcium oxalate is also present as a chemical constituent in senna leaves.
• Volatile substance which is strongly aromatic dark coloured essential oil is also present in senna.
• A yellow flavonol colouring matters kaempferin and its glycoside and isorhamnetin also present in senna.
• Sterol and its glucoside is also present in senna.
• Monoterpenes and phenylpropanes ,fatty acids and esters are also present in senna.
• Mucilage and resin is present senna.
• Water soluble polysaccharides are also present in senna.

4. Uses:

• Senna has purgative property.
• It helps to increase peristalsis movement which also causes reduction in water absorption.
• It has cathartic property.
• It is used to treat chronic constipation.
• It also has laxative property and senna is FDA- approved over –the- counter(OTC) laxative.
• It is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and anal or rectal surgery.
• It is used to treat hemorrhoids and weight loss.
• It is an effective laxative in the condition of pregnancy and lactation.

5. Adulterants:

• Dog senna , palthe senna and mecca or Arabian and Bombay senna are common adulterants of senna.


1.  What is the botanical name of senna?
(a) Cassia senna L.
(b) Rudbeckia hirta
(c) Physalis franchetti
(d) Basella rubra

2. Senna belongs to which plant family?
(a) Rubiaceae
(b) Liliaceae
(c) Laguminosae
(d) Solaniaceae

3. Match following with respect to the chemical constituents of plants.
I. Ipecac                                              A. purpurea A
II. Kurchi                                            B. sennoside A
III. Digitalis                                       C. conessine
IV. Senna                                            D. emetine
(a) I- A,II-B,III-C,IV-D

4. Choose incorrect statement with respect to the medicinal uses of plants.
I. Squill is used to treat chronic bronchitis.
II. Duboisea is used to treat parkinsonism.
III. Thevetia is used to treat rheumatism.
IV. Senna is used to treat diabetes.

(a) Both I and II
(b) Only II
(c) Both III and IV
(d) Only IV

5. What is the shape of leaves of senna?
(a) Needle shape
(b) Lanceole shape
(c) Obovate shape
(d) Cordate shape

6. What is the chief chemical constituent of senna?
(a) Emetine
(b) Aloe-emodine
(c) Sennoside A
(d) Thevetin A

7. What is the common adulterant of seena?
(a) Indigo dye
(b) Malic acid
(c) Dog senna
(d) All of the above

8. Senna is used to treat
(a) Diabetes
(b) Cancer
(c) Constipation
(d) All of the above

9. Palthe senna is an adulterant of which plant?
(a) Vinca
(b) Senna
(c) Strophanthus
(d) Ipecac

10. Senna is used to treat which syndrome?
(a) Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
(b) Irritable bowel syndrome
(c) Ackerman syndrome
(d) Cohen syndrome


1. (a)
2. (c)
3. (b)
4. (d)
5. (b)
6. (c)
7. (c)
8. (c)
9. (b)
10. (b)


Evans W.C, Editors. Trease and Evans Pharmacognosy. New York, Saunders Elsevier; 2009, p. 237,238.

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