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Useful Tropical Plants

Leucaena diversifolia

(Schltdl.) Benth.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Acacia diversifolia Schltdl.

Leucaena brachycarpa Urb.

Leucaena laxifolia Urb.

Leucaena pulverulenta brachycarpa (Urb.) Zarate

Common Name:

Leucaena diversifolia
Leaves, flowers and ripening fruits
Photograph by: Forest and Kim Starr
Creative Commons License
Leucaena diversifolia Leucaena diversifolia

General Information

Leucaena diversifolia is a deciduous tree or erect shrub with a light but spreading crown; it can grow 3 - 20 metres tall. When growing as a tree, the single-stemmed bole can be 20 - 50cm in diameter, slender and clear of branches for up to 10 metres[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].
The tree is occasionally harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is widely cultivated in tropical areas as a shade tree in plantations, for soil stabilization etc and as a source of wood. After Leucaena leucocephala, it is probably now the most widely cultivated species of Leucaena with a virtually pantropical, albeit somewhat scattered distribution[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].
Leucaena diversifolia is widely distributed, sometimes locally abundant, sometimes cultivated as coffee shade and apparently thrives on disturbance and is thus of little or no conservation concern. A growing abundance of spontaneous hybrids between this species and Leucaena leucocephala in parts of Mexico and Guatemala could pose a threat of genetic contamination of native populations in the future[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
]. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
,
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species

Range

Central America - northern Guatemala to central Mexico.

Habitat

Brushy, rocky hillsides, at elevations of 200 - 400 metres[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitDeciduous Tree
Height15.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsInsects, Self
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Leucaena diversifolia succeeds in moist tropical and essentially frost-free subtropical areas at elevations up to 1,740 metres[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It grows in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges from 18 - 30°c, and the mean annual rainfall is 600 - 3,500 mm, with up to 4 months dry period[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Its natural distribution corresponds to a narrow zone of moist or very moist submontane evergreen forest, subject to frequent mist and cloud cover[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It also grows sometimes abundantly in secondary vegetation. As a mid-elevation species, it is tolerant of cool climates but not frost[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Grows best in a sunny position but tolerates some shade[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers slightly acid, fertile soils but is tolerant of leached soils[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The aggressive nature and profuse growth of Leucaena diversifolia occasionally make it a weed[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The plant is fast-growing, self-fertile; it flowers and fruits over an extended season and sets prodigious quantities of seed from an early age. In other words, it has all the traits to make it an aggressive colonizer of ruderal sites and secondary or disturbed vegetation in many places[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].
This species forms spontaneous hybrids with Leucaena leucocephala extremely easily wherever the two species
are brought together in cultivation. These hybrids are self fertile and extremely seedy, suggesting weediness risks[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].
The unripe seedpods are harvested by climbing the trees and lopping the terminal branches or groups of pods, often crudely, with machetes, small knives or cutting poles. Annual pollarding in this way apparently causes only limited damage to the trees which resprout and fruit annually[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].
The tree is moderately resistant to Psyllid damage[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

Immature seed - raw or cooked[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
]. Often eaten raw as a snack when working in the field, Leucaena seeds are also often used as a garnish on cooked foods or added to stews, mixed with beans and maize tortillas etc. After removal from the pods, the unripe seeds can be dried and stored for later use or ground into a flour and mixed with wheat, corn etc[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
]. The seeds of this species are the smallest of any species in the genus; they are 4 - 5mm wide and 2 - 3mm long. There are 60,000 - 80,000 seeds/kg[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].

We have no record of edibility for the seedpods of this species, but the immature seedpods of many species in Mexico are eaten raw or cooked. The dark brown or reddish-brown seedpods can be 70 - 150mm long and 11 - 17mm wide, containing 6 - 20 seeds. There are 1 - 6 pods prooduced per flower head[
1518
Title
Leucaena A Genetic Resources Handbook
Publication
Tropical Forestry Papers No. 37
Author
Hughes C.E.
Website
https://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/leucaena/
Publisher
Oxford Forestry Institute; Oxford, UK
Year
1998
ISBN
0 85074 145 9
Description
An excellent guide to the genus, giving detailed information on the various species
].

Medicinal

None known

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant has proved to be effective in controlling soil erosion[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is also planted in reforestation schemes for soil amelioration and stabilization[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Its light crown, and ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, makes it an ideal species for shade over perennial crops such as coffee[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]
The annual leaf dry matter production can reach 10 - 16 tonnes/hectare. When incorporated as green manure, this adds 72 - 119 kg nitrogen, 2.5 - 3 kg phosphorus, 29 - 60 kg potassium, 47 - 94 kg calcium and 7.5 - 18.5 kg magnesium to the soil per hectare[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Other Uses

A water-soluble gum is obtained from the plant[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
] It contains the sugar rhamnose[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

An attractive wood, it is hard, heavy and durable, but not available in sufficient quantities for commercial exploitation. It is used locally for heavy construction[
1309
Title
The Leguminosae; A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses and Nodulation
Publication
 
Author
Allen O.N.; Allen E.K.
Publisher
University of Wisconsin
Year
1981
ISBN
0-333-32221-5
Description
An amazing and comprehensive work, giving a brief guide to the many genera of the family Fabaceae and also the principle uses of the genus.
]. Sufficiently large logs are used in construction and as poles[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The pulp is desirable for paper production[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
One of the primary uses of the species is as a firewood and charcoal; its energy value is 900-19 300 kJ/kg[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Propagation

Seed - requires pre-treatment to allow water to penetrate the hard coat. This can be done by carefully abrading part of the seed coat, being careful not to damage the seed. Alternatively, soak the seeds in a small quantity of almost boiling water, which cools down quickly enough so that it does not cook the seed. Then soak the seed for 12 - 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. Treated seeds can give 70% germination within one week[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. Typically, seedlings should be transplanted into the field 8 - 12 weeks after germination[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; viability can be maintained for several years in hermetic storage at room temperature with 5 - 8% mc[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Vegetative propagation from cuttings and grafts has generally failed, although tissue culture is successful[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-10-20. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Leucaena+diversifolia>

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