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Fruits & Vegetables

Leucaena

Botanical Name: Leucaena leucocephala
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Genus: Leucaena
Species: L. leucocephala

Synonyms:
*Acacia frondosa Willd.
*Acacia glauca (L.) Willd.
*Acacia leucocephala (Lam.) Link
*Acacia leucophala Link
*Leucaena glabra Benth.
*Leucaena glauca Benth.
*Mimosa glauca sensu L.1763 Misapplied
*Mimosa glauca Koenig ex Roxb.
*Mimosa leucocephala Lam.
*Mimosa leucophala Lam

Common Names:Leucaena, White leadtree, Jumbay, River tamarind, Subabul, Cow-Bush, Jump and Go Jumbie Bean, Lead Tree and White popinac

Habitat: Leucaena is native to southern Mexico and northern Central America (Belize and Guatemala) and is now naturalized throughout the tropics.It grows in the Dry coastal regions, waste ground.

Description:
Leucaena leucocephala is an arborescent deciduous small tree or shrub, to 20 m tall, fast-growing; trunk 10–25 cm in diam., forming dense stands; where crowded, slender trunks are formed with short bushy tuft at crown, spreading if singly grown; leaves evergreen, alternate, 10–25 cm long, malodorous when crushed, bipinnate with 3–10 pairs of pinnae, these each with 10–20 pairs of sessile narrowly oblong to lanceolate, gray-green leaflets 1–2 cm long, less than 0.3 cm wide; flowers numerous, axillary on long stalks, white, in dense global heads 1–2 cm across; fruit pod with raised border, flat, thin, becoming dark brown and hard, 10–15 cm long, 1.6–2.5 cm wide, dehiscent at both sutures; seeds copiously produced, 15–30 per pod, oval, flattish, shining brown, 18,000–24,000 per kg; taproot long, strong, well-developed. Tree grown as an annual when harvested for forage. Fl. and fr. nearly throughout the year….CLICK & SEE

A widely used multipurpose tree in Mexico, where it provides food, medicines and a range of commodities for the local population, and is also commonly sold as a food in local and national markets, Vigorous and fast-growing, it is often cultivated in many areas of the tropics as an ornamental and is also used in reforestation and soil stabilization projects, as a shade plant for coffee etc
Widespread and locally abundant in Central America, this species is not believed to be under any threat. The plant is classified as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Cultivation:
Leucaena leucocephala is a plant of the tropics, it succeeds at altitudes up to 1,500 metres, occasionally to as high as 2,100 metres. It grows best with a mean annual temperature in the range 25 – 30°c and a mean annual rainfall of 650 – 3,000mm. For optimal growth it is limited to areas 15 – 25° north or south of the equator. It grows well only in subhumid or humid climates with moderate dry seasons of up to 6 – 7 months.
Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerant of a range of soils, including limestone, wet and dry soils, soils of volcanic origin and those with moderate levels of salt. It is found in the wild on shallow limestone soils and coastal sand. Prefers a pH in the range 6 – 7.7, tolerating 5 – 8.5. Plants are very tolerant of drought and of salt-laden winds.

Propagation:
Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water then sow in containers. Seedlings and direct sowing are recommended methods of propagation where soil-moisture conditions permit and economic weed control can be maintained. Seed pre-treatment involves soaking in hot water for 2 minutes or nicking the seed coat at the distal (cotyledon) end, using a sharp tool like scalpel, knife or nail clipper. A germination rate of 50-80% in 8 days can be achieved.
Cuttings of semi-ripe wood. Vegetative propagation has been successful in relatively few locations, reflecting critical environmental requirements, or possibly systemic fungi. The use of bare-root cuttings has worked in Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Edible Uses
Young leaves, pods and flower buds are eaten raw, steamed, in soups, with rice or mixed with chillies and other spices. The mid- to orange-brown seedpods are 90 – 190mm long and 13 – 21mm wide, containing 8 – 18 seeds. There can be anything from 3 – 45 seedpods per flower head, though usually 20 or less.
Some caution is advised – see the notes above on toxicity.

Seeds are eaten raw or cooked. They are often eaten raw as a snack when working in the field. The unripe seeds are mixed with grated coconut, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked. They are also often used as a garnish on cooked foods or added to stews, mixed with beans and maize tortillas etc. The mature, but not dried, seeds are eaten raw or cooked as a delicacy. Dried seeds are fermented into tempeh lamtoro and dageh lamtoro.
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 6 – 9mm long and 4 – 6mm wide; there are 15,000 – 20,000 seeds/kg.

The dried seed can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

An edible gum obtained from the plant is used in sauces.

Medicinal Uses:
Folk Medicine:
Medicinally, the bark is eaten for internal pain. A decoction of the root and bark is taken as a contraceptive, ecbolic, depilatory, or emmenagogue in Latin America. However, in experiments with cattle, leucaena had no effect on conception.

List of known nutrients:
Leucaena contains essential vitamins and minerals that keep various diseases at bay. These include:

*Calcium
*Iron
*Leukanin
*Mimosin
*Phosphorus
*Protein
*Vitamin A
*Vitamin B1
*Vitamin C

Health Benefits:
*Leucaena alleviates wrinkles, psoriasis, and dandruff.

*Leucaena prevents cancer and eliminates intestinal worms.

*Leucaena relieves muscle pain and various menstrual issues.

*Leucaena is particularly beneficial to both skin and hair health.

*Leucaena helps maintain both digestive and muscle health

*Leucaena also promotes female reproductive health.

Agroforestry Uses:
Leucaena leucocephala is an aggressive colonizer of disturbed ground and ruderal sites, and thus an excellent pioneer species for restoring woodland cove Plants are sometimes used in re-reforestation projects. It is a fast growing plant with an extensive root system and has been used in land reclamation, for preventing soil erosion and as a shade plant for coffee crops. It thrives on steep slopes and in marginal areas with extended dry seasons, making it a prime candidate for restoring forest cover, watersheds and grasslands.
An aggressive taproot system helps break up compacted subsoil layers, improving the penetration of moisture into the soil and decreasing surface runoff.
Leucaena was one of the first species to be used for the production of green manure in alley-cropping systems. The leaves, even with moderate yields, contain more than enough nitrogen to sustain a maize crop. The finely divided leaves decompose quickly, providing a rapid, short-term influx of nutrients. It has even been suggested that the leaves decompose too rapidly, resulting in leaching of nutrients away from the crop-rooting zone before they are taken up by the crop. This also means that they have little value as mulch for weed control. The tree has the potential to renew soil fertility and could be particularly important in slash-and-burn cultivation, as it greatly reduces the fallow period between crops.

Other Uses
Gum arises from the stems under ill-defined conditions of injury and disease or from sterile hybrids, especially Leucaena leucocephala x Leucaena esculenta. The gum has been analysed and found similar to gum arabic, and of potential commercial value

Red, brown and black dyes are extracted from the pods, leaves and bark

The dried seeds are widely used for ornamentation

The heartwood is a light reddish-brown; the sapwood pale yellow. It is medium textured, close grained. The wood is strong, hard and heavy (about 800 kg/m), of medium density. It is easily workable for a wide variety of carpentry purposes and dries without splitting or checking. Sawn timber, mine props, furniture and parquet flooring are among increasingly popular uses. However, the use of the plant for sawn timber is greatly limited by its generally small dimensions (usually not greater than 30cm diameter), its branchiness, which limits lengths of clear bole available and means wood is often knotty, and its high proportion of juvenile wood. Nevertheless, there is growing use of small-dimension sawn wood in a number of industries such as flooring, which might include this species in the future. Poles are used locally to prop bananas and as a support for yams, pepper and other vines. However, use of this species fo short-rotation production of poles is limited by their lack of durability and susceptibility to attack by termites and woodborers.
The wood is commonly pulped for its fibre, used to make paper. The fibre values are similar to those of other tropical hardwoods, and it produces paper with good printability but low tearing and folding strength; the wood-pulp strength is greater than that of most hardwoods, with almost 50% greater ring crush. Its pulping properties are suitable for both paper and rayon production. Also used for particleboard production.
An excellent firewood species with a specific gravity of 0.45-0.55 and a high calorific value of 4600 cal/kg. The wood burns steadily with little smoke, few sparks and produces less than 1% ash. The tree makes excellent charcoal with a heating value of 29 mJ/kg and good recovery values (25-30%). Addition of the ground wood to fuel oil for diesel engines was found to involve no harmful agents in the ash.

Known Hazards:
The leaves of most forms of this plant contain the unusual amino acid mimosene. In large quantities this can be harmful. There are low-mimosene cultivars.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucaena_leucocephala
https://naturalpedia.com/leucaena-sources-health-benefits-nutrients-uses-and-constituents.html
http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Leucaena+leucocephala
https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Leucaena_leucocephala.html

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