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Leucaena - (Schltdl.) Benth.

Common Name Ipil-ipil
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Brushy, rocky hillsides, at elevations of 200 - 400 metres[331 ].
Range Central America - Guatemala to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Leucaena Ipil-ipil

Forest Starr & Kim Starr
Leucaena Ipil-ipil
Forest Starr & Kim Starr


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The correct name is Leucaena diversifolia (Schltdl.) Benth.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Leucaena is a deciduous Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Acacia diversifolia Schltdl.


Edible Uses

None known


Medicinal Uses

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None known


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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: The plant has proved to be effective in controlling soil erosion[303 ]. It is also planted in reforestation schemes for soil amelioration and stabilization[303 ]. Its light crown, and ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, makes it an ideal species for shade over perennial crops such as coffee[303 ] The annual leaf dry matter production can reach 10 - 16 tonnes/hectare. When incorporated as green manure, this adds 72 - 119 kg nitrogen, 2.5 - 3 kg phosphorus, 29 - 60 kg potassium, 47 - 94 kg calcium and 7.5 - 18.5 kg magnesium to the soil per hectare[303 ]. Other Uses A water-soluble gum is obtained from the plant[303 ] It contains the sugar rhamnose[303 ]. Sufficiently large logs are used in construction and as poles[303 ]. The pulp is desirable for paper production[303 ]. One of the primary uses of the species is firewood and charcoal; its energy value is 900-19 300 kJ/kg[303 ].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

Succeeds in moist tropical and essentially frost-free subtropical areas at elevations up to 1,740 metres[303 ]. It grows in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges from 18 - 30°c, and the mean annual rainfall is 600 - 3,500 mm, with 0 - 4 months dry period[303 ]. The natural distribution of L. Diversifolia corresponds to a narrow zone of moist or very moist submontane evergreen forest, subject to frequent mist and cloud cover[303 ]. It also grows sometimes abundantly in secondary vegetation. As a mid-elevation species, it is tolerant of cool climates but not frost[303 ]. Grows best in a sunny position but tolerates some shade[418 ]. Prefers slightly acid, fertile soils but is tolerant of leached soils[303 ]. The aggressive nature and profuse growth occasionally make it a weed[303 ]. The plant is self-fertile; it flowers and fruits over an extended season and sets prodigious quantities of seed from an early age. In other words, it has all the traits to make it an aggressive colonizer of ruderal sites and secondary or disturbed vegetation in many places[303 ]. 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[200 ].


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Seed - requires pre-treatment to allow water to penetrate the hard coat. This can be done by carefully abrading part of the seed coat, being careful not to damage the seed. Alternatively, soak the seeds in a small quantity of almost boiling water, which cools down quickly enough so that it does not cook the seed. Then soak the seed for 12 - 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. Treated seeds can give 70% germination within one week[303 ]. Typically, seedlings should be transplanted into the field 8 - 12 weeks after germination[303 ]. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; viability can be maintained for several years in hermetic storage at room temperature with 5 - 8% mc[303 ]. Vegetative propagation from cuttings and grafts has generally failed, although tissue culture is successful[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Local Common Names Guatemala: chalíp; gnash Jamaica: wild tamarind Mexico: guache; guaje; guaje blanco; guaje del río; guajillo; guashí; sashíbte; Shasíb

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

The aggressive nature and profuse growth occasionally make it a weed[303 ]. L. diversifolia and its hybrid with L. leucocephala are aggressive colonizers of ruderal sites and secondary or disturbed vegetation in Mexico (the native range).

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Leucaena diversifioliaIpil-ipilTree15.0 10-12 FLMHSNM003
Leucaena leucocephalaLeucaena, Lead Tree, White TamarindTree10.0 9-12 FLMHNDM324

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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(Schltdl.) Benth.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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Subject : Leucaena  
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