Coffee senna (Senna occidentalis
), previously referred to as Cassia occidentalis
, is a toxic leguminous plant found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. In the United States, S. occidentalis
is often found in the southeastern states. Numerous cases of poisoning have been documented in animals, including poultry. S. occidentalis
has branched stems which are initially reddish-purple but turn greenish-brown as they mature. It produces clusters of bright yellow flowers and dark brown, flattened, sickle-shaped pods.
The seeds are the most toxic part of the plant, and can sometimes become contaminated in poultry and other livestock feed. The main toxic chemical found in the seeds is dianthrone, an anthraquinone-derived compound that affects mitochondrial function.
A study conducted by the Research Center for Veterinary Toxicology (CEPTOX), Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil evaluated the effects on egg production of low-level contamination of coffee senna in the diet of forty-eight pullets. None of the layers showed any clinical signs of poisoning, decreases in feed intake or alterations of the body weight gain. A marked reduction in egg production and, consequently, a lower feed efficiency in ET/IT group were measured. Of the poisoned hens, it was apparent that the ovaries were the most adversely affected organ, resulting in yolk leaking and dysplasia of the inner layer of the vitelline membrane.