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Useful Tropical Plants

Leucaena esculenta

(Moc. & Sessé ex DC.) Benth.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Acacia esculenta Moc. & Sessé ex DC.

Leucaena confusa Britton & Rose

Leucaena matudae (Zárate) C.E. Hughes

Mimosa esculenta Sessé & Moc.

Common Name: Guaje

No Image.

General Information

Leucaena esculenta is an evergreen or deciduous shrub or tree with an open, spreading, rounded crown; it can grow from 6 - 15 metres tall. The plant is typically multi-stemmed when young, older trees developing a short clear bole that can be 5 metres long and 20 - 70cm in diameter with a thick, corky bark[
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.
,
411
Title
Trees and Shrubs of Mexico
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 23
Author
Standley P.C.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution; Washington
Year
1926
ISBN
 
Description
Although dated, it contains a wealth of information on the trees and shrubs of Mexico, including many of their uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The tree is commonly harvested from the wild, protected and encouraged in the wild, and extensively cultivated as a food crop in Mexico. It provides edible seeds, whilst its leaves, flowerbuds and seedpods are the traditional green food of the indigenous peoples. The seeds etc are sold in local markets in Mexico[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. The tree also has local medicinal uses, yields a useful timber and is often grown to provide shade in coffee plantations. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
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.
].
Leucaena esculenta is widely distributed and extremely abundant both in natural populations and in indigenous cultivation. It is often the commonest tree in towns and villages in parts of Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero in Mexico. 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

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 - Mexico.

Habitat

A canopy tree in seasonally dry, deciduous tropical forest and at higher elevations in oak, oak-juniper and juniper forest; at elevations from 600 - 1,800 metres, occasionally to 2,080 metres[
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
].

Properties

Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitSemi-deciduous Tree
Height10.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsInsects
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Semi-cultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Guaje is a plant of the seasonally dry tropics, where it can be found at elevations from 400 - 2,000 metres. It grows in areas where the mean annual rainfall is within the range 800 - 1,300mm and can tolerate up to 7 months of dry season. Plants can tolerate occasional light frosts[
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
].
Found in the wild mainly on well-drained calcareous soils that are often shallow and rocky[
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.
]. Established plants are moderately drought tolerant[
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
].
A fast-growing tree[
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 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 highly 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 is known to hybridize readily with Leucaena leucocephala glabrata where the two are brought together in
cultivation[
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 seeds - raw or cooked. The immature green seeds are stripped from the pods and eaten raw, roasted, dried, in soups, stews etc[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
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.
]. Often eaten raw as a snack when working in the field, the 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
].They have a unique, lingering, garlic-like flavour[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The seeds can be ground into a paste and sun dried for long term storage[
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 seedpods turn red and open easily when the seeds are ready to eat[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The circular to ovoid seeds are 9 - 11mm long and 7 - 9mm wide. There are 8,700 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
].

Young pods, leaves and flower buds are eaten as greens[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
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 seedpods are reddish maroon when unripe, turning mid orange-brown when ripe: they are 100 - 300mm long and 23-26mm wide, containing 15 - 20 seeds. There are 1 - 2 seedpods produced 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
].

Galls frequently develop on the leaves and pods[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. They can be eaten raw, roasted or boiled[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
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.
].

Medicinal

The seeds are believed to have aphrodisiac powers[
411
Title
Trees and Shrubs of Mexico
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 23
Author
Standley P.C.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution; Washington
Year
1926
ISBN
 
Description
Although dated, it contains a wealth of information on the trees and shrubs of Mexico, including many of their uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The tree is used to provide shade, especially in coffee plantations[
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 fixes atmospheric nitrogen, whilst the lopped leaves and twigs can be used as a green manure[
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 tree is planted at field boundaries or as living fences, and is also widely incorporated in agroforestry cropping systems, growing with annuals or fruit crops beneath them[
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
].
It is highly resistant to the psyllid (Heteropsylla cubana), and it has been used in breeding programmes[
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

The wood is rarely used in Mexico because trees are protected for food production. However, non-seedy or seedless clones are attractive options for most of leucaena's wood uses, including pulpwood, roundwood, parquet, and craftwood[
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 wood makes a high quality fuel and is also used to make charcoal[
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
].

Propagation

Seed - the seedcoat of this species is relatively soft and seeds usually germinate fairly well without treatment. However, scarification can improve germination rates and can be carried out prior to sowing[
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 can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Because the seeds are quite large, seedlings usually grow away rapidly[
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
].
Cuttings of semi-ripe wood.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-11-12. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Leucaena+esculenta>

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