Leucaena leucocephala (Leucaena)

Viable seeds / kg (approx.): 12,000

Minimum purchase: 100 g


Leucaena is native to Mexico and
Central America, but it is naturalized in all the tropics. In some countries it
is considered an invasive species, and it has also shown allelopathic effects.
It can reach heights of 2-10 m, occasionally up to 15 m or more.


It provides an excellent source of
protein rich forage to supplement animal feed, but care must be taken because
of its mimosine content, which can cause toxicity. Leucaena is an excellent
producer of biomass, as well as for erosion control, alley cropping and soil
improvement, due to its high nitrogen fixation capacity. Due to its small
dimensions it is not used much as sawmill wood, but mostly as firewood and for
the paper pulp industry. It is also used as a tutor for other crops.

Environmental conditions

It prefers climates with 650-1500
mm of rain per year, but tolerates up to 3000 mm and up to 7 months of drought,
with temperatures of 25-30 ºC.


It grows in a wide range of sites,
but does not tolerate low pH, high salinity, waterlogging or frost.

Seeds and nursery

The seed germinates well without pre-treatments,
but to accelerate germination it is suggested to immerse the seeds in water at
80ºC for 1-3 minutes, or to sand the surface until it loses its natural shine,
and in both cases leave the seeds in running water at room temperature for 24
hours. For the seedbed it is recommended to use a loose substrate such as river
sand, well washed and disinfected. The seed should be distributed evenly or in
rows separated by 2 cm, sowing superficially (2 mm). Germination occurs after 3-12
days and transplanting must be carried out when the seedlings have reached 3-5
cm in height and the first true leaves appear. The root is usually very long,
so it must be pruned to about 3-4 cm in length. When transplanting, be sure to
make a hole deep enough in the substrate to avoid curving up of the roots.
Shade should be provided for the first 2-3 weeks after transplanting, for
instance using shade clothing (saran) 50%. The plants will be ready for field
planting after 1-2 months in the nursery or when they have a height of about 25
cm. Due to its rapid initial growth, direct sowing can also be done, placing
2-3 seeds per hole, and then selecting the best seedling. A couple of weeks
before planting out in the field it is recommended to reduce watering to
stimulate the lignification of the stems.


In good places, L. leucocephala can grow up to 6 m in 2-3 years.

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Banco de Semillas Forestales

Costa Rica

USD 150/kg