Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Fabales
Family:Fabaceae
Genus:Leucaena
Species:L. leucocephala
Common Names:Petai Belalang
Status:Cultivated

Description

A shrub to a small tree, it can grow to a height of 18 m. Leaves are twice pinnate with 4-9 pairs of side stalks, each with 11-22 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets are oblong-linear, 1.2-1.8 x 0.4 cm, unqual sides and sessile. Flowers are in rounded heads of about 3 cm wide, bisexual, cream white and fragrant. Pods are flat, straight, 14-26 cm x 1.5-2 cm, in groups of 10 or more hanging from a common point at the end of a short stalk. There are 18-22 seeds rattling inside the pod until it splits open to liberate them.

Read more about the Fabales order.
Read more about the Fabaceae family.

Distribution

Originating from Guatemala, it has since spread throughout Southeast Asia.

Localities

Lorong Halus, Pulau Semakau

Human Uses

This is a multipurpose tree grown for fuelwood, fodder, shade, food and green manure. The leaves are fed to cattle, sheep and goats or milled for poultry and pelleted for export. The wood can be made into charcoal, used for posts, chipboard and plywood, paper pulp and even furniture. Young green shoots and green seeds are eaten. Also used as a living hedge, shade trees for coffee and cocoa plants. the dried seeds are made into ornaments.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Mannetje, L. ‘t & R. M. Jones (eds.) 1992. Plant resources of South-East Asia - No. 4: Forages. Pudoc, Wageningen.  300 pp.

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