Leucaena leucocephala

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Leucaena leucocephala


Shrub or small tree to c. 10(-15) m high; Leaves: Inflorescences consisting of pedunculate glomerules aggregated up to 3 in the leaf-axils or in terminal racemes; Flowers: Petals spathulate 4.5-5 mm, puberulous. Stamens 10, creamy white to greenish white, filaments 8-10 mm. Ovary stipitate, velutinous at the apex. Seeds 15-30, obliquely held in pod, narrowly ovate, compressed, 6-9 by 3-4.5 mm, obtuse at the apex, cuneate at the base;


Asia-Tropical, most tropical areas of the world, tropical America present
Tropical America, introduced and naturalized in most tropical areas of the world; in Malesia: all over the area.


Extensively cultivated especially in areas with a tropical seasonal climate [Burkill, Diet. Econ. Prod. (1935) 135]. Cultivated as a cover- crop for control of soil erosion in the Philippines. The best development is found in well-drained, fertile soils, improved by adding calciumcarbonate to the soil [5-10 tons/acre; ]. Widely used and recommended as food for beef cattle, dairy cows, water buffalo and goats. Because of a non protein amino acid, mimosine (c. 5% of the protein content), in the leaves, the Leucaena part of the diet must never exceed ⅓. Mimosine in larger amounts inhibits the production of thyroxine, and causes goitre.
Wood medium hard, used for paper pulp, plywood, poles etc., also as fuel wood and charcoal. Used for soil improvement, reafforestation, as shade plants and nurse crop for a wide range of tropical trees and crops (e.g. coffee, cocoa, tea, cinchona, mangosteen, citrus, pepper, vanilla, seedlings of teak and other forestry species, rubber, coconut and oil palm). Young leaves, flowers and fruits are used in cooking. Seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee. The bark produces a brown dye, used for fishing-nets. For further details see .


Backer & Bakh.f. 1963 – In: Fl. Java: 560
Nielsen 1981: p. 38. – In: Fl. Camb. Laos Vietnam: pl. 5, 21-25
DeWit 1975 – In: Taxon: 352
Verdc. 1979: Manual New Guin. Legum.: 154