Leucaena esculenta matudae Zárate
Leucaena matudae is a usually multi-stemmed, deciduous tree, very branchy when young but soon forming an open, spreading crown; it usually grows 8 - 10 metres tall, but is sometimes smaller. Older trees often have a narrow, open crown, developing a clear bole up to 2 - 3 metres tall and 20 - 30cm in diameter[
The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
The known distribution of Leucaena matudae is highly restricted, making this species globally rare. Although locally
common in a few areas, it is considered to be of significant conservation concern[
]. The plant is classified as 'Endangered' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Southern N. America - southern Mexico (Guerrero)
A canopy tree in dry inland thorn scrub forest, sometimes growing in small, pure stands[
Leucaena matudae is a plant of the semi-arid tropics. It grows in southern Mexico where rainfall is low, between 500 - 80Omm, and highly seasonal with a dry season of up to 7 months. It does not experience frosts[
Found in the wild on freely-draining, dry, rocky, calcareous slopes[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
Leucaena matudae is one of only five species in the genus judged to be of lower weediness hazard than Leucaena leucocephala due to its less precocious and prolific seeding[
A slow-growing plant[
The plant is highly resistant to damage by 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[
Seeds - raw or cooked[
]. 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[
]. The seeds are 8 - 9mm long and 6 - 9mm wide; there are around 13,000 seeds/kg[
]. The dark maroon or maroon-brown seedpods are 148 - 190mm long and 12 - 17mm wide; I - 2 seedpods are produced on each flower head[
The wood of this species is little used in its native range and mean wood density is moderately low (0.58) compared to other species in the genus; no heartwood is formed during the first five years[
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.
If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.