Leucaena leucocephala

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Leucaena leucocephala
Leucaena leucocephala.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Mimosoideae
Tribe: Mimoseae
Genus: Leucaena
Species: L. leucocephala
Binomial name
Leucaena leucocephala
(Lam.) de Wit[1]

Leucaena glauca (L.) Benth.[2]
Mimosa glauca L.
Acacia glauca Willd.

Pods of Leucaena leucocephala in the month of May.
Leucaena leucocephala - MHNT

Leucaena leucocephala is a small, fast-growing mimosoid tree native to southern Mexico and northern Central America (Belize and Guatemala),[1][3] but is now naturalized throughout the tropics. Common names include white leadtree,[4] jumbay, and white popinac.[5] The specific name is derived from the Greek words λευκό, meaning "white", and κέφαλος, meaning "head", referring to its flowers.[6] L. leucocephala is used for a variety of purposes, such as firewood, fiber and livestock fodder.

Use by humans[edit]

During the 1970s and 1980s, it was promoted as a "miracle tree" for its multiple uses.[7] It has also been described as a "conflict tree" in that it is both promoted for forage production and spreads like a weed in some places.[2]

The legume is promoted in several countries of Southeast Asia (at least Burma, Cambodia, Laos[8] and Thailand), most importantly as a source of quality animal feed, but also for residual use for firewood or charcoal production.

Forage and fodder[edit]

The legume provides an excellent source of high-protein cattle fodder.[9]

Green manure and biomass production[edit]

Leucaena leucocephala has been considered for biomass production, as its reported yield of foliage corresponds to a dried mass of 2,000–20,000 kg/ha/year, and that of wood 30–40 m³/ha/year, with up to twice those amounts in favourable climates. It is also efficient in nitrogen fixation, at more than 500 kg/ha/year. It has a very fast growth rate, young trees reach a height of more than 20 ft in two to three years.

Food for humans[edit]

The young pods are edible and occasionally eaten with Javanese vegetables salad with spicy peanut sauce and spicy fish wrapped in papaya or taro leaves in Indonesia, papaya salad in Laos[8] and in Thailand, where they are known as phak krathin (Thai: ผักกระถิน).[10]

Invasive properties[edit]

L. leucocephala is a highly invasive in the arid parts of Taiwan, The Bahamas, the Hawaiian Islands, Fiji, Hong Kong and northern Australia.,[11] as well as in South America and Europe.[12] It grows quickly, and forms dense thickets which crowd out any native vegetation.[13] L. leucocephala is considered one of the 100 worst invasive species by the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.[2]

In Hong Kong the species is now considered invasive, and unwanted species, growing in arid, roadside areas, carparks, and abandoned land. [14] [15]

The plant is also found in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, and is considered weedy or invasive by some authorities.[16]

Leucaena leucocephala's wood and bark

Other limitations[edit]

This species is susceptible to insect infestations. In the 1980s, a widespread loss in Southeast Asia was due to pest attack by psyllids.[17] In India, this tree was initially promoted for afforestation due to its fast-growing nature. However, it is now considered unsuitable for urban planting because of its tendency to get uprooted in rain and wind. Eight of every 10 uprooted trees in Pune were subabuls.[clarification needed][18]

The seeds contain mimosine, an amino acid known to be toxic to nonruminant vertebrates.[7]

Local names[edit]

  • Mayan language: Huaxim (washim)
  • Indigenous distribution area:


  1. ^ a b "Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1995-03-24. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Leucaena leucocephala (tree)". Global Invasive Species Database. Invasive Species Specialist Group. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  3. ^ Hughes, Colin E. (1998). Monograph of Leucaena (Leguminosae-Mimosoideae). Systematic botany monographs v. 55. ISBN 0-912861-55-X. 
  4. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Leucaena leucocephala (white leadtree)". PLANTS Database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  5. ^ Ipil-ipil, Leucaena glauca, BPI.da.gov.ph
  6. ^ "Leucaena leucocephala". AgroForestryTree Database. World Agroforestry Centre. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  7. ^ a b Gutteridge, Ross C., and H. Max Shelton. 1998. Forage Tree Legumes in Tropical Agriculture. Tropical Grassland Society of Australia, Inc., 2.1 "Leucaena leucocephala - the Most Widely Used Forage Tree Legume"
  8. ^ a b "Farmers to grow leucaena for animal feed". Vientiane Times. 2011-06-15. 
  9. ^ "Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) deWit.". hort.purdue.edu. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 
  10. ^ ASEAN Biodiversity
  11. ^ "Leucaena Leucaena leucocephala". Weed Identification & Information. Australian Weeds Strategy. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  12. ^ Fonseca, N.G. & Jacobi, C.M. 2011. Desempenho germinativo da invasora Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit. e comparação com Caesalpinia ferrea Mart. ex Tul. e Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw. (Fabaceae). Acta Botanica Brasilica 25(1): 191-197. Link: http://acta.botanica.org.br/index.php/acta/article/viewFile/1265/427
  13. ^ Kuo, Yau-Lun. "Ecological Characteristics of Three Invasive Plants (Leucaena Leucocephala, Mikania Micrantha, and Stachytarpheta Urticaefolia) in Southern Taiwan." 12 1 2003.http://www.agnet.org/library/eb/541/ (accessed 3 24 2008).
  14. ^ Tree Preservation
  15. ^ Hong Kong Flora and Vegetation
  16. ^ "Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit white leadtree". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 
  17. ^ ODI - Alley Farming
  18. ^ Das, Dipannita (8 May 2011). "Activists want Pune Municipal Corporation to allow cutting of subabul trees in city". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 9 May 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2011. 
  19. ^ Wolff, John U. A Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan. 1972. http://bohol.ph/wolff.php
  20. ^ Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). "Koa haole, leucaena" (PDF). Common Forest Trees of Hawaii. United States Forest Service. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 

External links[edit]