Senna tora is a widely used medicinal plant. Its health benefits have been attributed to the large quantity of anthraquinones, but how they are made in plants remains a mystery. To identify the genes responsible for plant anthraquinone biosynthesis, we reveal the genome sequence of S. tora at the chromosome level with 526 Mb (96%) assembled into 13 chromosomes. Comparison among related plant species shows that a chalcone synthase-like (CHS-L) gene family has lineage-specifically and rapidly expanded in S. tora. Combining genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and biochemistry, we identify a CHS-L gene contributing to the biosynthesis of anthraquinones. The S. tora reference genome will accelerate the discovery of biologically active anthraquinone biosynthesis pathways in medicinal plants.