Leucaena

Leucaena leucocephala

Common name:

Leucaena

Scientific name:

Leucaena leucocephala (Fabaceae)

Alternative common names:

Lead tree; white popinac (English); reusewattel; stuipboom (Afrikaans); ubobo; ulusina (isiZulu).

A small tree or shrub growing up to 4m high with open leafy branches. Dark green, drooping leaves which are often grey-hairy. White or pale yellow flowers borne singly or in groups of two or three from July to March. The seed pods are flattened and turn brown and occur in distinctive clusters that are raised over the seeds. Although used as a fodder plant, it is poisonous to livestock in large quantities.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    Mexico and Central America.

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    NEMBA category 2

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

    How does it spread?

    Seed dispersal.

    Why is it a problem?

    Competes with and likely to replace indigenous species. Dense stands along watercourses are likely to reduce stream flow. Pods poisonous (in quantity) to domestic livestock.

    What does it look like?

    General description: A shrub or small tree reaching a height of 4m with acacia-like leaves and open, spreading profile. Leaves: Dark green, bi-pinnate, acacia-like drooping leaves which are slightly hairy. Flowers: White or pale yellow flowers borne singly or in groups of two or three from July to March. Fruit/seeds: Brown, flattened pods in distinctive clusters that are raised over the seeds.

    Does the plant have any uses?

    Fodder, firewood, construction poles, ornament and soil stabilisation.

    Plant me instead alternatives

    Sweet thorn (Acacia karoo), keurboom (Virgillia oroboides), pigeonwood (Trema orientalis)