Summary details for Leucaena leucocephala

Leucaena

Leucaena leucocephala

Common name: Leucaena (English); Wonderboom (Afrikaans)

Origin: Tropical America

Description

Evergreen, thornless, single- or multi-stemmed tree up to 18m high, droopy when young, often mistaken for an Acacia. Branches smooth with prominent pores (lenticels); young branches hairless or slightly hairy.  Leaves twice-divided, dark green, drooping, up to 15cm long. Flowers gathered into white, fluffy, pom-pom-like balls. Pods brown, up to18cm long, usually in distinctive, dense, drooping clusters.

Discussion

Cultivated for fodder, firewood, construction poles, ornaments, stabilising sand.  Whole plant toxic to livestock if eaten in quantity. Native to central America. Young seeds edible, said to be eaten in salads in Mexico. Widespread throughout Namibia. Seeds spread by wind, water and in animal manure and germinate easily, and it has become invasive in gardens in many towns, including Windhoek.  This species potentially poses a major threat because it forms dense thickets that exclude other plants. It needs careful monitoring and aggressive clearing, especially in wetter areas such as Waterberg. 

Leucaena leucocephala
Leucaena leucocephala © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Leucaena leucocephala
Leucaena leucocephala © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Leucaena leucocephala
Leucaena leucocephala © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Leucaena leucocephala
Leucaena leucocephala © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer

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