San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Plants at a Glance: Another Useful Ornamental

SARAGUNDÍ, or Piss-a-Bed Senna alata

CASALPINIACEAE Laxative, diuretic, vulnerary



A native species of the Neotropics found in the warmer regions of Mesoamerica. Botanical description: Bush-like perennial 2-4 meters tall with pinnate leaves consisting of 6-12 pairs of leaflets with bright yellow flowers born on racemes at the axils of the leaves.


Medicinal Uses:

The leaves are used as a laxative and diuretic. It is said to be useful in the treatment of urinary problems. The fresh leaves are used to treat fungal infections on the skin, particularly ringworm fungal infections. For example, in Guatemala, the English name is ringworm bush. In Belize, women use a tincture to treat female infertility



A handful of leaves are boiled in 1 liter of water and taken several times a day. The flowers are also boiled in water for urinary malfunctions. The fresh leaves are macerated and applied directly to the skin infection.



An easy bush to grow around the home that also serves as a lovely ornamental. Seeds can be collected from wild bushes. Plant the seeds about 2 cm deep in prepared potting soil in small pots or plastic nursery bags. In several days, the seeds will germinate and in several months the small trees can be transplanted to permanent sites around the garden. These trees grow about 3 m tall and have awkward, extended branches.


For this reason, it is best to plant them a good distance from other trees or garden beds. Leaves can be harvested within the first year for medicinal use. The Saragundí tree is a pioneer species, which grows rapidly for several years and then declines. For more info on tropical medicinal plants and home gardening in Costa Rica, be sure to see: www.thenewdawncenter. org We will try to answer your questions


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