Autumn is the season for many plants to lose their color and hibernate — but not in Southern California! Some flowers bloom cheerfully as soon as the days grow short. One of the all-around best autumn flowers for our climate are those from the plant tribe Cassieae — otherwise known as Cassia or Senna species.
Not sure what to look for? These plants, originally from the tropics but well-suited to Southern California’s temperate Mediterranean climate, often take the shape of bushes and have bright green, elongated bipinnate leaves. They feature bright, ruffly blooms in yellows and oranges. They’re drought-tolerant. And best of all? When summer-blooming perennials disappear, these hardy plants fill gaps in between other plants and bloom the through winter.
Casa Romantica is home to several plant species in this tribe. Here are two of our favorites:
Golden Rain plant (Cassia fistula)
The Golden Rain plant is native to the Indian subcontinent, although it is cultivated all over the world, and is the national flower of Thailand. Although it traditionally blooms in spring, Southern California’s climate coaxes the plant (which can be cultivated both as a bush and as a tree) to achieve prolific blooms beginning in early November. It is drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant. Casa Romantica has large Golden Rain plants located on either side of its campus,just beyond the entrance to the Woodland Garden and as part of the Butterfly Garden.
Popcorn Cassia (Senna didymobotrya)
Popcorn Cassia originally hails from tropical parts of central and eastern Africa. It gets its name from its smell: the flowers, when rubbed gently, emit the scent of buttered popcorn. The flowers are like their namesake in more ways than one, because the bright yellow blooms mimic both the shape and color similarity of movie theater popcorn! It can bloom much of the year but particularly thrives when rain and moderate heat combine (like with our November showers). Casa Romantica keeps a large Popcorn Cassia in our Spanky Chang Childrens’s Garden at the entrance to the Story Circle stairway.
Want to see more of our 2.5 acres of botanical gardens? Plan your visit.