Cassia abbreviata, the long-tail cassia or in Afrikaans sambokpeul (horsewhip pod), is a medium height tree (3 to 10 m) of the far northeast of South Africa (SA Tree List No. 212). Most of the tree’s distribution area lies widespread in tropical Africa.
Two of the three recognised subspecies occur south of the Zambezi. They differ only in the nature of hairiness: subsp. abbreviata has loose curly hairs on the underside of leaflets. Subsp. beareana has fine straight hairs pressed to the leaf.
The tree features in various traditional medicine remedies. Subsp. beareana bears the name of a medical doctor, O’Sullivan Beare, who successfully copied tribal use of the tree’s roots in treating blackwater fever.
The tree with its rounded crown, yellow flower sprays and much noted pods is good for gardens with little or no frost (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002).