Leucaena shannonii magnifica C.E.Hughes
Leucaena magnifica is a small to medium-sized partly deciduous tree usually growing 10 - 15 metres tall, occasionally reaching 20 metres. Typically branchy when young, older trees tend to have a short clear bole up to 6 metres and spreading angular branching with an open rounded crown. The bole is usually 20 - 30cm in diameter, occasionally to 70cm[
The plant is harvested from the wild for its wood, and is grown in fields to provide shade and improve soil fertility.
Leucaena magnifica occupies a highly restricted distribution covering a total area of less than 400 square kilometres. Within that area, it occurs in small, highly fragmented, scattered and degraded populations and is now reduced to fewer than 400 known individuals in its native range[
]. The plant is classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Although this species does not generally seed until year 2 - 3, it can produce prodigious quantities of seed. If introduced into cultivation, it poses some risk of weediness in open habitats and on ruderal sites[
C. America - southeastern Guatemala (Ciquimula)
Degraded and highly disturbed mixed seasonally-dry deciduous tropical forest[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Semi-cultivated, Wild
Leucaena magnifica is a tropical species and occurs in areas with 800 - 1,200mm rainfall and a 5 - 6 month dry season[
Leucaena species generally require a sunny position. They are often found in the wild on poor, shallow and dry soils, usually overlying a calcareous rock. Most of them do not thrive on acid soils. Most species experience a long dry season and are more or less drought tolerant.
The plant is moderately susceptible to damage from psyllids[
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[
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[
We have seen no records of this species being used for food, although (especially in southern Mexico) many species in the genus are commonly harvested for their immature seeds and young seedpods, leaves and flowerbuds[
The seeds of this species are 8 - 9mm long and 4 - 5mm wide, with around 23,000 - 30,000 seeds per kilogram[
The seedpods are a deep maroon unripe turning mid orange-brown when ripe. They are 130 - 230mm long and 19 - 26mm wide[
Some farmers encourage and protect seedlings of this tree on their fields, recognizing it as a source of organic material and the value of its litter fall in the maintenance of soil fertility. Trees over crops are sometimes managed by lopping to reduce shade[
The wood is dense, with moderate formation of heartwood, and dries readily. When obtained from large, well-grown specimens, the wood is considered to be of excellent quality and to have a wide range of uses[
]. The wood, even from smaller and frequently lopped trees is highly valued locally, being used for purposes such as posts and poles[
The wood makes an excellent fuel[
Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. 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.
Cuttings of semi-ripe wood.
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