Senna covesii

Botanical Name

Senna covesii (A. Gray) Irwin & Barneby

Common Name(s)

  • desert senna

Legume Clades

Native Geographic Range

  • Southwestern North America

IUCN Status

Growth Form

perennial herb

Cultivation Status in AZ



Herbaceous plants to 1.5 ft (50 cm) high with stems dying back during drought. Stems and leaves grayish green with short coarse hairs. Leaves once-pinnate with 2--5 pairs of oblong to elliptic leaflets. Clusters of pale yellow flowers are produced during the summer in response to rainfall.


Native from California and Nevada to New Mexico and in northwestern Mexico. The species is common in deserts and grassland habitats on a variety of soil types.


The seeds are reported to be eaten by some species of birds.


Desert senna is a short-lived plant that is sometimes included in wildflower mixes and is used in revegetation. The plants lose vigor after several years but can reseed in locations that are suitable. The yellow flowers are attractive. Occasional irrigation during the warm months helps to maintain appearance in the garden. Stems can freeze back in colder winters but usually regrow from the crown.