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Origin and Habitat: Senna meridionalis has a relatively extensive distribution over an area of at least 20000 km2 in southern and western Madagascar, from Toliara to the Itampolo region. It has a very limited distribution. Distribution within this area is fragmented, but the species is at least locally common Only about 400 plants remain in the wild.
Habitat and ecology: This species grows mainly on Eocene limestone of the Mahafaly plateau in arid and semi-arid areas in deciduous forest and thorny scrub.
ENGLISH: Taraby plant
MALAGASY: Taraby, Andapary, Tainjazamena
Description: Senna meridionalis, commonly known as Taraby, is a small deciduous shrub 1-2 m tall or a small tree up to 5 m tall with much-branched crown. The bole (caudex) is somewhat swollen and succulent near the base. Even when small, the fat, gnarled stems and small pinnate leaves make this species look like a miniature tree. The flowers are a bright yellow and similar to others in the family. Adult plants of Senna meridionalis resemble from a distance Alluaudia comosa.
Stem: Main stem succulent (caudiciform). Twigs smooth, thick and rigid, tortuous
and zigzag, differentiated into long-shoots (auxiblasts) and short-shoots (brachyblasts).
Leaves: Pinnate, small, to 3 cm long; leaflets 3-6 pairs.
Flowers: Small, bright yellow.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Werner Rauh, Herman Schwartz “Succulent and xerophytic plants of Madagascar”, Volume 2 Strawberry Press, 1998
2) Bihrmann's Caudiciforms, Website: http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/
3) Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa., Website: http://www.prota.org
4) Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-08-12. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Senna+meridionalis>
5) CactiGuide.com, Succulent of the Week (2010-12-13) - Senna meridionalis, Website: http://cactiguide.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=19813
6) "IUCN/TRAFFIC Analyses of the proposals to amend the CITES Appendices at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, Bangkok, Thailand, 3–14 March 2013", Website: https://www.traffic.org/site/assets/files/7515/cites-cop16-analysis-of-proposals.pdf
7) Bako H. Ravaomanalina, Andrilalao M. Rakotonavalona & Bakolimalala Rakouth, “Conservation status of some commercialized succulent species of Madagascar” Website:http://www.vahatra.mg/volume5/mn05_04.pdf
Cultivation and Propagation: Senna meridionalis when young is the most attractive of all Madagascan Senna species (about seven species) and is worthy of cultivation. It is an easy grower, not particularly fussy about either light, watering or soil, but a very slow grower. It will eventually attain a height of 2-3 m. It can be grown as a Bonsai. It prefers a sunny position to maintain its compact shape, but this isn't really necessary.
Watering: In summer, it will take quite a bit of water, but will also remain in leaf during the winter if you continue to water it. It id best to cut back drastically on water during the winter, to allow the leaves to drop and give it a dormant period.
Traditional uses: The branches are used as poles in building local houses. It is occasionally grown as an ornamental, valued for its swollen bole
Propagation: Senna meridionalis can be propagated from both seeds and cuttings. Seeds, it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. It can also be propagates by cuttings.
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