Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Leucaena, Red leucaena, Wild tamarind, Diversifolia.

+ Tree Species

Leucaena diversifolia

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Leucaena is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Central America. This species is the second most widely cultivated Leucaena species for planting in the tropical highlands. It grows naturally throughout the highlands of southern Mexico and Central America south to Nicaragua where there is much rain and cloud and a dry season of only 1-5 months. Often an understorey tree in pine forests, it grows usually at 1,000-1,500 m and can tolerate acid soils. In Uganda, it is now being tried in the highlands of Rukungiri and Kabale Districts and is showing promise. It grows faster than L. leucocephala at higher altitudes and has shown some resistance to the leucaena psyllid. In Kampala, this tree can be found within Makerere II, Zone C mong other places.

+ Description

A shrub about 2 m or a tree to 20 m as the name suggests, very variable. Usually upright with light open branching.

BARK: on young branches smooth, rougher on bole, grey-brown with shallow rusty orange-brown vertical fissures; slash green then cream.

LEAVES: bipinnate, the minute leaflets only 3-6 mm with large glands on the leaf stalk.

FLOWERS: flower heads like "balls" 6-15 mm across, pink-purple with red anthers, over 40 flowers in the head.

FRUIT: small straight pods 5-15 cm long, 5-12 mm wide, deep red-purple when young, later brown. Many pods may hang together in heavy drooping clusters. Each pod contains 18-26 very small seeds, taking a month to mature.

+ Uses

Edible: Immature seed can be eaten raw or cooked. Seeds are also often used as a garnish on cooked foods or added to stews, mixed with beans and maize tortillas etc. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Leucaena+diversifolia

Agroforestry: effective in controlling soil erosion, can be planted in reforestation schemes for soil amelioration and stabilization, fixes atmospheric nitrogen, an ideal species for shade over perennial crops such as coffee, provides fodder to the animals.

A water-soluble gum is obtained from the plant.

The wood is used locally for heavy construction. The large logs are used in construction and as poles.

The wood is as a firewood and charcoal.

The pulp is desirable for paper production.

+ Propagation

Seeds, vegetative propagation from cuttings and grafts.

+ Management

Fast growing. Coppicing, pollarding and pruning.

+ Remarks

This species may replace Leucaena leucocephala which is being attacked by the leucaena psyllid, Heteropsylla cubana. Leucaena spp. have been tried in agroforestry systems with intensive management. Falling leaves and loppings add organic matter to the soil and the species fix nitrogen. Leucaena are highly valued as a fast-growing tree providing fodder, fuel and shade as well as a useful light timber. They can be planted with coffee to provide light shade.

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