Sicklepod (Coffeebean, Coffeeweed) – Identification

Q: This interesting plant came up in my flower bed. I let it grow to see what it would be and it continues to grow!

The leaves have a soft touch and around sunset the leaves begin to close and it looks like rows of green butterflies hanging from the branches.

Could you please tell me what it is?

A: It’s sicklepod, Cassia obtusifolia, also known as coffeebean. I agree that the foliage is interesting – but my Dad paid me good money to pull up every plant I saw in our hayfield because the cows wouldn’t eat hay contaminated with it.

When I was a kid, we called it coffeebean because the crushed seedpod smelled vaguely of coffee. Don’t try it as a substitute for your morning java; the seeds are mildly poisonous.

It is an annual plant that comes up from seed each spring. You are welcome to grow it for its interesting foliage, although I think you’ll get tired of the rangy branches when it reaches its maximum height of 6 feet.

I’ve heard that the young shoots are edible but, like poke sallet, I’ll leave it to others to enjoy for a meal.

If you decide you don’t want it, pull the distinctive seedlings as you discover them.

See Sicklepod

Sicklepod seedlings

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