Candle bush

Candle bush is a declared Class A and Class C weed.

Another name for this plant is Senna alata.

Candle bush - infestation


You should use this as a guide. There may be other plants or weeds that look similar.

If you are unsure, contact the Weed Management Branch.


These features describe the habit of this plant:

  • evergreen spreading perennial shrub
  • up to 4m tall.

Candle bush - habit

Stems and roots

These features can identify the stems and branches:

  • short, pithy stems
  • shallow mat root system.

Candle bush - stems and roots


These features can identify the leaves:

  • up to 60cm long
  • up to 14 pairs of large, oblong leaflets
  • compound leaves are alternate on the plant stem.

Candle bush - leaves


These features can identify the flowers:

  • distinctive candle-like flowers
  • 2 to 3cm diameter and 30 to 60cm long
  • vertical spikes
  • spherical yellow petal balls at the bottom
  • scale-like orange petals towards the top.

Candle bush - flowers

Fruit and seeds

These features can identify the fruit and seeds:

  • long dark brown to black pods grow up from the stem and have two wings
  • seeds are dark-grey to black and are triangular.

Candle bush - fruit and seeds

Similar looking plants

The following plant species look similar to candle bush:

Coffee senna - infestation

Sicklepod - infestation


Candle bush can have all of the following impacts:

  • invades native bushland in wetter areas
  • forms dense thickets
  • impedes access to waterways
  • suspected of being poisonous to stock.

Habitat and distribution

Candle bush, a native of Central and South America, and is now a weed in Africa, tropical Asia and the Pacific region.

It was probably introduced into Australia as an ornamental.

In Darwin it has spread into native bushland in and near coastal regions.

It is widespread in far north Queensland and may become naturalised in Kununurra.

Spread prevention

Candle bush seed can be spread via floodwaters, in mud attached to vehicles, machinery and stock, and when animals eat and expel seeds.

You can prevent the spread of candle bush by doing all of the following:

  • map infestations to help develop a management plan
  • control minor infestations, isolated outbreaks or seedlings first
  • designate wash down areas and actively work to prevent contamination of clean areas
  • monitor areas that you have treated and watch for re-infestations.

Candle bush - spread


Chemical control

The best time to treat candle bush is from December to April. Below is a list of treatment methods that can be used.

Chemical and concentration Rate Situation, method and notes
2, 4-D amine 625 g/L 320mL / 100 L Seedling (individuals or infestation) + adult (infestation):
Foliar spray – Uptake® Spraying Oil required
For boom rate contact WMB
Triclopyr 240 g/L + Picloram 120 g/L
1L / 60L (diesel) Adult (individuals or infestation):
Basal bark < 10cm stem diameter treat up to 30cm from ground
Cut stump > 10cm stem diameter

Non-chemical control

Hand pulling and grubbing

Weeds, including their roots, are physically pulled out of the ground by hand or using hand tools.

This is an effective method of control for individual weeds and recent outbreaks that haven’t released seeds yet, but it requires a lot of labour.

Last updated: 28 November 2017