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Lonchocarpus nicou - (Aubl.) DC.

Common Name Barbasco, timbo, cube
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The plant is used as a fish poison[317 ].
Habitats Not known
Range Northern S. America - Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and the Guyanas.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Lonchocarpus nicou Barbasco, timbo, cube

Lonchocarpus nicou Barbasco, timbo, cube


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Barbasco or Lonchocarpus nicou is an important source of rotenone, an organic insecticide. It is an evergreen, erect shrub that produces woody stems that enable the plant to climb into other plants for support. It is commonly found within Northern South America and grown in small gardens or fields. It is propagated by cuttings.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of climber
Lonchocarpus nicou is an evergreen Climber growing to 10 m (32ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral 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


Derris nicou (Aubl.) J.F.Macbr. Robinia nicou Aubl.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: The plants are grown in small gardens or fields, often in crop mixtures with cassava, beans or corn[317 ]. Other Uses The roots contain 0.75 - 1% rotenone, which can be used as an insecticide[46 ]. The rotenone content of the roots (ranging from 5 - 15%, with some clones yielding 20%) is greater than that of the related Lonchocarpus urucu (which ranges from 4 - 11%). This, however, is somewhat balanced by the fact that the overall yield of roots is higher for Lonchocrpus urucu[317 ].

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics where it is found at elevations from near sea level to 1,340 metres[418 ]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges from 23 - 32°c, but can tolerate 15 - 41°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,300 - 2,700mm, but tolerates 2,000 - 3,100mm, and is found in areas with all year round rainfall and also where there is a distinct dry season[418 ]. Succeeds in full sun and in dappled shade[418 ]. Young plants benefit from some shade, while older plants make more vigorous growth in full light[418 ]. Grows best in a medium soil that is rich in organic matter, but also succeeds in heavier soils[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, but can tolerate 5 - 7[418 ]. The first harvest of the stems can be made when the plants are 2 - 3 years old from cuttings[317 ]. The roots are usually harvested during the dry season[418 ]. 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.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - seldom produced by the plants[317 ]. Cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

barbasco - English, cube - English, timbo - English, nicou - French, barbasco - Spanish.

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Found In

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

Peru; Colombia; French Guiana

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.

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Lonchocarpus urucuBarbasco, timbo urucuClimber12.0 10-12 MLMHSNM004

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.


Expert comment


(Aubl.) DC.

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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