Leucaena leucocephala

Scientific nameLeucaena leucocephala
Fabaceae; Sub-family: Mimosaceae
English: jumbie bean, lead tree, leucaena, wild tamarind
Cambodia: khtum tehs, krathum thet
Indonesia: petai cina
Lao PDR: kathin;kh’oonz, koong khaaw
Malaysia: lamtoro, petai belalang
Philippines: bayani, komkompitis, loyloy, palomaria
Thailand: kra thin, to-bao
Viet Nam: cây keo dau
Evergreen thornless shrub or small tree [2–10 (15) m high]; young stems green and densely covered in greyish-coloured hairs.
Bark: Smooth, greyish-brown with numerous small raised spots.
Leaves: Dark green, twice-divided [0.7–15 (–35) cm long] with small raised structure (gland) usually on leaf stalk, 3–10 pairs of leaf branchlets, each 2–10 cm long and each bearing 5–22 pairs of leaflets that are somewhat elongated, almost parallel sided or swordshaped (7–21 mm long and 1.5–5 mm wide).
Flowers: White or pale yellow in globular clusters (12–30 mm across), borne singly or in groups of 2–3 located at the juncture of the leaf and stem.
Fruits: Pods (several-seeded dry fruits that split open at maturity), green turning brown or reddish brown as they mature, elongated, almost straight (8–18 cm long and 2 cm wide), flattened but raised over the seeds, pointed tips; containing 10–25 hard seeds.
Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.
Fuelwood, fodder, tannins, nitrogen fixation, soil conservation, shade and ornament.
Roadsides, disturbed land, urban open space, drainage ditches, forest edges/gaps, woodland edges/gaps, riparian vegetation, lowlands and coastal shrub.
Forms large monocultures displacing native plant and animal species. In Hawaii, it is outcompeting open forest species (Cronk and Fuller, 1995), while on the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, it impacts endemic flora. The invasion of leucaena has had a severe effect on the native plant community in the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands, Japan, and may alter secondary succession, promoting the invasion and establishment of more aggressive alien plant species (Yoshida and Oka, 2004). In Guam, leucaena is preventing the establishment of indigenous species (B. Lawrence, pers. comm., in Walton, 2003). In Vanuatu, it can form dense monospecific thickets, threatening native plant species and is ‘very difficult to eradicate once established, rendering extensive areas unusable and inaccessible’ (Bakeo and Qarani, 2005). In the Erap Valley of Papua New Guinea, it forms monospecific stands in river valleys, replacing native riparian vegetation (G. Werren, pers. comm., in Walton, 2003).
Witt, Arne. 2017. Guide to the Naturalized and Invasive Plants of Southeast Asia. CAB International. Retrieved from http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158961 on 23 October 2018
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Last updated on 02/14/2019 00:59