Leucaena trichandra

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Open spreading growth habit.

Open spreading growth habit.

After very heavy grazing.

Evaluation plots in Sumatra, Indonesia.

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Scientific name

Leucaena trichandra (Zucc.) Urb.


Acacia trichandra Zucc.
Leucaena diversifolia (Schldl.) Benth. subsp. stenocarpa (Urban) Zárate
Leucaena diversifolia (Schldl.) Benth. subsp. trichandra (Urban) F.J. Pan
Leucaena guatemalensis Britton & Rose
Leucaena revoluta Britton & Rose
Leucaena standleyi Britton & Rose
Leucaena stenocarpa Urban
Senegalia albanensis Britton & Rose


Family: Fabaceae (alt. Leguminosae) subfamily: Mimosoideae tribe: Mimoseae. Also placed in: Mimosaceae.

Common names

guaje (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico);  guaje chiquito, guaje flojo, guaje rojo (Spanish).

Morphological description

Small to medium sized tree (5-18 m) with an open spreading crown.  Considerable diversity in morphology.  Leaves bipinnate with 11-22 (5-30) pairs of pinnae, variable in length up to 35 cm, with an un-stalked, deeply crater-shaped, round petiole gland (up to 3.4 mm long x 1.7 mm wide);  leaflets 30-40 (20-59) pairs/pinna, 4-6 mm x 1-1.4 mm, asymmetric at base, linear oblong, acute at apex.
Flowers are variable in colour;  stamen filaments and style white or tinged pink;  anthers pale cream, pinkish-grey to rose pink or occasionally pale violet;  10 mm in diameter, numerous 70-130/head in groups of 3-5 in leaf axils on actively growing indeterminate shoots.  Pods 7-11 cm x 13-23 mm, glossy reddish-green or maroon when unripe, turning pale-yellow, or reddish-brown when ripe.  Seeds 4.5-6.5 mm long, aligned transversely in pods.  Seed weight ranges from 40,000-70,000 seeds/kg.


Native to:
L. trichandra is the most widely distributed species of Leucaena occurring throughout Mexico (Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco, Mexico, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Chiapas) and Central America (Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua) across a range of altitudes, typically from 700-2,000 m asl .


In its native range, L. trichandra is used as a minor food crop, with the edible pods being eaten when more preferred species are unavailable.  Trees are also commonly retained in cropping lands for multipurpose utilisation.  Exotically, L. trichandra has been used as a shade over coffee, generally in frost-free highland-tropical locations.  Has been extensively evaluated in agronomic and, to a lesser extent, in animal production trials.  Used in hybridisation programs with L. leucocephala in an attempt to produce an acid-soil tolerant hybrid .


Soil requirements

Native to a wide range of soils from limestone-based vertisols to mildly acid-infertile alfisols.


Native range receives 1,000-1,800 mm annual rainfall .


Grows at 700-2,000 m asl in frost-free climates with average annual temperatures from 17-22ºC.  Some accessions possess cool temperature adaptation for growth, although this is not strongly related to temperature in the native range.  Most accessions are poorly adapted to high temperature environments.


Grows under pine forests in parts of Central America and is therefore likely to possess shade tolerance.

Reproductive development

Flowers June to September (mid-summer to early autumn) and fruits March to May (Spring) in the native range.


Tolerance to regular cutting is accession and climate specific, with most high altitude accessions having a low tolerance when grown in hot, humid-tropical locations, but showing good tolerance to regular cutting at highland tropical locations.


Mature plants are tolerant of moderate intensity fires, regrowing readily from burnt stumps or branches.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Essential to control competition with weed species.  For best results plant on deep, well-drained soils with a pH above 5.5 and maintain a weed-free area of at least 2 m either side of the establishing plants.  Seed must be scarified to break the impermeable testa.  Previously, hot-water treatment was recommended but resulted in highly variable results including reduced viability.  Mechanical scarification, using coarse sandpaper (for small seed lots) or abrasive lined rotating drum scarifiers, is now preferred.  Specific rhizobium is required (eg. CB3060, TAL1145, LDK4).
Complete cultivation is recommended in extensive plantings.  Planted into rows 4-9 m apart at seeding rates of 2.5-4.0 kg/ha.  Herbicides such as bentazone (post-emergence) and imazethapyr (post-planting) can be used to control weeds during establishment.  Alternatively, rolling cultivators can be used to control very young weed seedlings and break soils crusts after emergence of leucaena seedlings.
Small areas can be planted using either seed or seedlings.  Seedlings are normally raised in poly bags for plug planting at 3-4 months old.  Seedlings can also be raised in beds and removed for planting as bare-rooted seedlings if 'topped and tailed'.


Normally not fertilised under rain-grown conditions.  Starter N and P may be used when establishing into depleted soils on cropping lands.  Leucaena in Australia has occasionally responded strongly to added sulphur.  On acid-infertile soils it is essential to add lime, P and K at planting and after each cut.

Compatibility (with other species)

Compatible with a range of grass species.  Does not compete strongly with companion grasses in comparison to L. leucocephala .  Can be difficult to establish L. trichandra into existing grass pastures without clean cultivation.

Companion species

Grasses:  L. trichandra has been grown experimentally with signal grass (Brachiaria decumbens ) in Papua New Guinea and wet tropical Australia and with imperata (Imperata cylindrica) in the Philippines.
Normally grown as a hedgerow with grasses or crops grown between hedgerows .

Pests and diseases

Elite accessions are resistant to psyllid insects, but L. trichandra is variable in psyllid resistance ranging from highly susceptible (OFI 4/91, OFI 140/92) to highly resistant (OFI 53/88).
A range of pathogenic fungi and insects occasionally attack L. trichandra
Newly emerged nursery and field-grown seedlings are susceptible to damping-off diseases caused by the fungal species, Pythium or Rhizoctonia.
The soft scale (Cocus longulus) attacks the tall stems causing a reduction in productivity.  The associated sooty mould that develops on the sugary exudates from the scale can cover the stems and temporarily kill under-storey grasses.  Soft scale is generally an infrequent pest, with populations rarely building to cause economic damage.
Soil insects such as earwigs, scarab beetles, termites and cut worms can cause serious damage to emerging seedlings and should be controlled.
Seed production can be reduced by the flower-eating larvae of the moth Ithome lassula, and by four species of seed-eating bruchid beetles of the Acanthoscelides genus and Stator limbatus.

Ability to spread

Seedlings that may recruit will compete poorly with companion grasses and are susceptible to grazing.  Is therefore most unlikely to spread under grazing.

Weed potential

Seed production varies greatly with provenance but can be very high.  L. trichandra is therefore considered to have significant potential to colonise disturbed areas.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

A legume of low to moderate nutritive value due to the presence of low to high concentrations (1-23% of DM) of highly astringent condensed tannins (CTs).  Accession OFI 53/88 and CPI 46568 contained 18-19% CTs, whereas OFI 138/92, an agronomically inferior accession , contained only 1% CT.  The crude protein concentrations of 9 accessions ranged from 17-33%.


Moderate to high palatability under grazing by cattle and sheep in cafeteria trials in Australia and the Philippines.  Less palatable than L. leucocephala but more palatable than L. pallida in grazing trials in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.


Most accessions contain moderately high concentrations of astringent condensed tannins.  Mimosine concentrations are similar to those of L. leucocephala (see L. leucocephala factsheet).

Production potential

Dry matter

Dry matter productivity is highly dependant on accession and environment.  OFI 53/88 established rapidly in plot trials at humid locations in a multi-environment trial in Australia and southeast Asia, but subsequent growth was only moderate with the exception of highland-tropical environments, where the accession was comparatively highly productive.  CPI 46568 was of moderate productivity, whereas OFI 4/91 was of very low productivity in most environments.
Nine accessions of L. trichandra were evaluated in subtropical Australia and humid tropical Philippines.  Many accessions yielded very poorly, particularly in the Philippines.  OFI 53/88 was the highest yielding accession at both sites, but its comparative advantage was much greater at the cooler Australian site.

Animal production

In the Philippines, L. trichandra OFI 53/88 was planted as hedgerows into an imperata (Imperata cylindrica) pasture.  Palatability was low to moderate in comparison to L. leucocephala , but the addition of L. trichandra did improve the forage quality of the grass pasture to some extent with L. trichandra and L. leucocephala pastures supporting liveweight gains of 0.40 and 0.43 kg/head/day, respectively, over a 6.5-month period.  These liveweight gains were significantly higher than the 0.14 kg/head/day achieved from the imperata control.
In Papua New Guinea, L. trichandra CPI 46568 failed to improve liveweight gains of steers grazing signal grass (Brachiaria decumbens ), with both the signal grass control and the L. trichandra -signal pastures supporting steer gains of 0.48 kg/head/day over an 8-month period.


L. trichandra is self-incompatible, with a chromosome number of 2n = 2x = 52.  L. trichandra hybridises well with the diploid species L. collinsii , L. shannonii, L. lanceolata, and L. multicapitula, but less well with tetraploid and other diploid species.

Seed production

Small-scale seed-production orchards of L. trichandra have been successfully established by WAF (formerly ICRAF) in Kenya and CSIRO in Australia.  No details regarding seed yields are available.

Herbicide effects

Herbicides such as bentazone (post-emergence) and imazethapyr (post-planting) can be used to control weeds during establishment.
L. trichandra can be killed by basal bark application of herbicides containing 120 g/L picloram and 240 g/L triclopyr mixed with diesel.  Application of glyphosate to regrowth following slashing will kill trees, although repeat applications may be necessary.



Other comments

Previously treated in the literature as a L. diversifolia .  Previously referred to in University of Hawaii and other information as "diploid or 2n L. diversifolia ".

Selected references

Galgal, K.K., Shelton, H.M. and Mullen, B.F. (2004) Animal production from some new Leucaena accessions. Tropical Grasslands, 38 , (in press).
Hughes, C.E. (1998) Leucaena, A genetic resources handbook. Oxford University Press, UK.
Shelton, H.M., Gutteridge, R.C., Mullen, B.F. and Bray, R.A. (1998) (eds) Leucaena - adaptation, quality and farming systems. ACIAR, Canberra, Australia.

Internet links




Country/date released


No cultivars of L. trichandra have been formally released.          

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



OFI 53/88 Kenya (1998) (not formally released). Well adapted to highland tropical locations.  Establishes rapidly and has excellent psyllid tolerance.  Seed produced by WAC (formerly ICRAF) in Kenya.
CPI 46568 CSIRO, Australia (pre-release, 1996). High psyllid resistance and low temperature adaptation, but poor tolerance of dry conditions.  Under cool, humid conditions will out-yield L. leucocephala cv. Cunningham.  The accession was not released due to relatively poor liveweight gains of cattle in grazing trials.