- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Impact Summary
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Wood Products
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Leucaena diversifolia (Schltdl.) Benth.
Other Scientific Names
- Acacia diversifolia Schltdl.
- Leucaena brachycarpa Urb.
- Leucaena laxifolia Urb.
- Leucaena stenocarpa Urb.
Local Common Names
- Guatemala: chalíp; gnash
- Jamaica: wild tamarind
- Mexico: guache; guaje; guaje blanco; guaje del río; guajillo; guashí; sashíbte; Shasíb
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae
- Subfamily: Mimosoideae
- Genus: Leucaena
- Species: Leucaena diversifolia
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|Cameroon||Present||Introduced||First reported: Late 1800s|
|Central African Republic||Present||Introduced|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||Present||Introduced|
|Congo, Republic of the||Present||Introduced|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Present||Introduced||Planted||First reported: Late 1800s|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||Present||Introduced|
|Indonesia||Present||Introduced||First reported: pre-1900|
|-Java||Present||Introduced||Planted||First reported: Late 1800s|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Introduced|
|Jamaica||Present||Introduced||Planted||First reported: pre 1900|
|Martinique||Present||Introduced||Planted||First reported: pre 1900|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Present||Introduced|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Introduced|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Introduced|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Introduced||Planted|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present||Introduced||Planted|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
L. diversifolia is a self-compatible tetraploid of probable hybrid origin. Harris et al. (1994) showed that the most likely maternal parent species is L. pulverulenta but the paternal parent remains uncertain. Until recently, L. diversifolia was considered to occupy a restricted distribution in central Veracruz, Mexico (Brewbaker, 1987b; Pan, 1988; Pan and Brewbaker, 1988; Zarate, 1994; Ipor, 1997). Efforts to evaluate the potential of L. diversifolia were restricted to accessions collected from that restricted area, with two accessions, K156 and K784, both collected near Fortín in Veracruz, Mexico noted as outstanding. Recent taxonomic work (Hughes, 1998b) has shown that L. diversifolia is much more widely distributed than originally thought, across five States in south-central Mexico and in northern Guatemala. More comprehensive provenance seed collections sampled from across this wider distribution have now been assembled (Hughes et al., 1995; Bray et al., 1997; Hughes, 1998b), but it is too early to draw conclusions about patterns of provenance variation based on the handful of trials that include this new material.
Artificial hybridization has been the main thrust of breeding efforts in Leucaena, used to overcome the limitations of L. leucocephala and its inherent lack of genetic and useful diversity (Brewbaker and Sorensson, 1990). L. leucocephala has been the most important parent in hybrid programmes. The L. leucocephala x L. diversifolia hybrid also occurs spontaneously wherever the two species are juxtaposed in cultivation, and is documented from Mexico, Guatemala, Jamaica, Martinique, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea (Hughes, 1998a, 1998b; Hughes and Harris, 1998). Hughes and Harris (1998) named it as L. xspontanea. KX3, or L. x spontanea, and like its parents, it is self-fertile, seeds copiously, is fast growing and potentially weedy (Hughes and Jones, 1999), and intermediate in psyllid resistance and fodder quality between L. leucocephala and L. diversifolia.
Physiology and Phenology
L. diversifolia is self-fertile and produces prodigious quantities of seed from an early age, seasonally in the native range from April to June (Hughes, 1998a).
As a self-compatible tetraploid, L. diversifolia sets prodigious quantities of seed from an early age and is potentially weedy (Ipor, 1997; Hughes, 1998b; Hughes and Jones, 1999). There are between 50,000 and 80,000 seed/kg. It is also one of the most important parents in spontaneous and artificial hybridization (Brewbaker and Sorensson, 1994; Sorensson and Brewbaker, 1994; Sorensson, 1995; Hughes, 1998b; Hughes and Harris, 1998; Austin et al., 1999).
One of the most notable features of L. diversifolia is its cool tolerance compared with the pantropically planted and essentially tropical species, L. leucocephala. L. diversifolia is well adapted to cool, but frost-free, mid-elevation, tropical highland climates, and has out-yielded L. leucocephala on cool highland sites with a mean annual temperature of 16°C in Hawaii (Brewbaker, 1982; Brewbaker and Sorensson, 1987; Brewbaker et al., 1988; Austin et al., 1997), Jamaica (Adams, 1972), Zimbabwe (Maasdorp, 1992), India (Khajuria and Singh, 1991), Sri Lanka (Gunasena and Wickremasinghe, 1995) Papua New Guinea (Howcroft, 1994) and elsewhere (Ipor, 1997; Mullen et al., 1999a). In Mexico and Guatemala, the natural distribution coincides with the optimal coffee growing zone along a narrow belt, between 400 and 1500 m altitude, of moist or very moist submontane evergreen forest, subject to frequent mist and cloud cover along the Gulf-facing slopes from 16-21°N. Mean annual temperatures in these areas range from 15-21°C and rainfall from 1500 to 3500 mm with a short, 2-4 month dry season (Hughes, 1998a, b). L. diversifolia thus grows well in cool, moist, stable climates, and is ideally suited to the tropical highlands. It does not withstand frost (Williams, 1987), limiting its use in subtropical areas.
Several studies have cited L. diversifolia as one of a handful of Leucaena species showing moderate acid soil tolerance compared with L. leucocephala, which grows well only on freely-drained, neutral, or slightly alkaline soils (Hutton, 1981, 1983, 1990, 1995; Oakes and Foy, 1984; Holden et al., 1988). However, most of these reports refer to the diploid cytotype, now referred to L. trichandra, rather than to the truly tetraploid L. diversifolia. Furthermore, although true L. diversifolia does show somewhat greater acid soil tolerance than L. leucocephala, there is now a general consensus that significant acid soil tolerance is likely to be difficult to achieve within Leucaena even through breeding, and that other genera such as Calliandra, Desmodium, Erythrina, Flemingia and Inga may provide better options for such areas (Blamey and Hutton, 1995; Hughes, 1998b; Mullen et al., 1999a). It is commonly found between 500 m and 2500 m altitude.
L. diversifolia has the ability to form a symbiotic association with Rhizobium root nodule bacteria, which are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen.
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||5|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||15||23|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||20||28|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||10||16|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||0||4||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||1500||3500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The psyllid defoliator, H. cubana feeds on developing shoots and young foliage causing limited tree mortality, severe and cyclical defoliation, deformation, stunting and dieback. The psyllid is a classic example of a pest catching up with an exotic after many years of pest-free existence, through its accidental movement to a new area (Beardsley, 1986) and is spreading across Asia and Africa (Bray, 1994; Djogo, 1994; Sampet et al., 1995; Geiger et al., 1995; Mullen et al., 1999b). Since the psyllid first started spreading in 1984, a considerable research effort has been mobilized to examine the problem and provide options for its control and management (Withington et al., 1987; Napompeth and MacDicken, 1990; Ciesla and Nshubemuki, 1995). General overviews of the psyllid problem were provided by Napompeth (1990), Bray (1994) and Geiger et al. (1995) and of the biology of H. cubana by Beardsley (1986), Waterhouse and Norris (1987), Hodkinson (1989) and Muddiman et al. (1992). The dramatic spread of the psyllid westward from Central America in 1985 to almost encircle the globe within a decade is documented in detail by Muddiman et al. (1992) and Bray (1994). Attempts to document and quantify the impact of psyllid damage have been made by Mella et al. (1990) and Oka (1990).
The possibility of identifying and using psyllid-resistant genetic material within Leucaena was proposed by Bray and Sands (1987), Sorensson and Brewbaker (1987) and Bray (1994) as one option to deal with the psyllid problem, alongside other measures such as biocontrol (reviewed by Mitchell, 1987; Nakahara et al., 1987; McClay, 1990; Waage, 1990). The possibility of using psyllid resistant species directly or through hybridization was discussed by Bray et al. (1990). Numerous studies have shown that L. diversifolia is moderately psyllid resistant (Sorensson and Brewbaker, 1984, 1986, 1987; Bray and Woodroffe, 1988; Wheeler, 1988; Wheeler and Brewbaker, 1989, 1990; Mullen et al., 1999b). However, there appears to be considerable variation in psyllid resistance among accessions within L. diversifolia, ranging from highly resistant to highly susceptible, with the widely planted K156 accession among the most susceptible (Mullen et al., 1999b).
Camptomeris leaf spot is caused by Camptomeris leucaenae. Camptomeris causes black spots or patches on the underside of the leaflets and chlorosis, loss of leaflets or whole leaves, and some dieback often associated with secondary pathogens (Lenne, 1980). It is a potentially serious disease of L. leucocephala causing reduced forage yields and quality particularly in areas with >2000 mm rainfall (Lenne, 1980, 1991). Although Camptomeris is reported as a disease of L. diversifolia by Ipor (1997), initial indications from trials in Colombia are that L. diversifolia, is more resistant to Camptomeris than L. leucocephala (Lenne, 1980; Moreno et al., 1987). Ipor (1997) notes gummosis as an important disease of L. diversifolia. The cause of gummosis remains uncertain, but appears to be a canker caused by a fungus in the genus Fusarium.
High proportions of seeds of L. diversifolia in Latin America are eaten by four different bruchid beetle species in the genus Acanthoscelides (Hughes and Johnson, 1996; Hughes, 1998b). So far only one of these bruchid species, Acanthoscelides macrophthalmus, has been accidentally introduced outside Latin America (for example in Australia, Jones, 1996), but deliberate introduction for biocontrol of weedy L. leucocephala is being considered in South Africa (Neser, 1994, 1996). Outside Latin America, other seed beetles may also heavily predate Leucaena seeds. Amongst these records, it appears that seeds of L. diversifolia are more resistant to Araecerus levipennis in Hawaii and Araecerus fasciculatus in the Philippines (Braza and Salise, 1988; Ipor, 1997) than L. leucocephala.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
The wood of L. diversifolia is broadly similar to that of L. leucocephala, the properties of which have been thoroughly investigated and documented (Bawagan, 1983; Pound and Martinez-Cairo, 1983; van den Beldt and Brewbaker, 1985). Most authors have emphasised the potential to use Leucaena wood for a wide range of products including domestic and industrial fuel, including dendrothermal energy generation, poles, posts, sawn timber, furniture, parquet flooring, particle board and pulp. However, the potential to use L. diversifolia for saw timber is greatly limited by its generally small dimensions, usually not greater than 30 cm diameter, its branchiness, which limits lengths of clear bole available and means wood is often knotty, and its high proportion of juvenile wood. Nevertheless, there is growing use of small dimension sawnwood in a number of industries, such as flooring, which might include L. diversifolia in the future. In practice, the wood is primarily used for fuelwood and charcoal for domestic household or local industrial (lime or pottery kilns) use, and for small dimension poles. Use of short-rotation L. diversifolia for poles is limited by lack of durability and susceptibility to attack by termites and wood borers. L. diversifolia provides fuelwood and charcoal of acceptable, although not the highest, quality and it is a popular fuel, often competing with alternative local species in areas where fuelwood is in short supply (NAS, 1984) but not with the higher quality fuelwoods obtained from species of Acacia or Prosopis.
Compared with L. leucocephala, leaves of L. diversifolia have lower nutritive value in terms of lower palatability, digestibility, intake and crude protein content, and higher condensed tannin content (Stewart and Dunsdon, 1998; Dalzell et al., 1999; Faint et al., 1999), resulting in lower animal production (Jones et al., 1999). However, it must be remembered that L. leucocephala is one of the foremost, highest quality and most palatable tropical fodder trees, often being described as the 'alfalfa of the tropics' (Jones, 1979, 1994; Pound and MartInez-Cairo, 1983; NAS, 1984; Bray, 1986; Brewbaker, 1987b, Shelton and Brewbaker, 1994). Leaf quality of L. leucocephala compares favourably with lucerne (Medicago sativa) in feed value except for its higher tannin content (Jones, 1979) and mimosine toxicity to non-ruminants (Bray, 1995). Thus, although not as high quality as L. leucocephala, L. diversifolia may still provide an acceptable livestock fodder with high crude protein content.
Leaves of Leucaena species have also been widely used for green manure in cropping systems. The value of Leucaena leaf litter as a fertilizer from trees maintained over crops is recognized by farmers in Central America, Indonesia and the Philippines (Dijkman, 1950). In parts of Jamaica, Indonesia and the Philippines, L. diversifolia has been used for several decades as a shade tree over tea or coffee with widely recognized benefits in terms of soil fertility. L. diversifolia is likely to have potential in alley farming. Its leaves are fragile and decompose quickly providing a very rapid, short-term influx of nutrients related to a low carbon/nitrogen ratio but little value as mulch for weed control which is widely recognized as one of the main benefits of alley farming, particularly in the humid tropics.
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Building poles
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- For light construction
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.No specific information on the control of L. diversifolia is available, but it may be assumed that control methods used for the closely related L. leucocephala may be suitable.
ReferencesTop of page
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