Africa Invaded: Leucaena

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Leucaena leucocephala is another tree species that has been promoted by international agroforestry organisations as a fodder and firewood resource, but is widely reported as an invasive weed.

Miracle tree?

Called the ‘miracle tree’ in the early years of its global cultivation, leucaena is a fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing and drought-tolerant tree that is native to Mexico and Central America. It is widespread in Africa, and in places provides a nutritional food source for livestock.

However, both the foliage and seeds contain the amino acid mimosine, rendering them toxic in large quantities. Leucaena tends to invade forest margins, roadsides,
wasteland, riverbanks and sometimes also cultivated land, forming dense thickets that are difficult to eradicate because the plant resprouts vigorously after cutting.

Reference: Matthews S. & Brandt K.   Africa Invaded: The growing danger of invasive alien species  Global Invasive Species Programme 2004

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