Calliandra calothyrsus Meissn.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Calliandra is unusually promising as a firewood source because of its excellent
coppicing ability and very quick growth. In Indonesia it is cut for fuel after
only a year's growth and harvested annually for the next 1520 years. Even
when harvested on such short rotations, it produces a sizable yield of branch
wood that makes good household fuel. Like many other genera favored for
charcoal making, Calliandra often travels under the Spanish name of
'carbonaria' or 'carbonero'. Indonesians use the tree to supress Imperata, and
to make firebreaks. Livestock relish the leaves of this good fodder crop,
grown with elephant grass in large areas previously unable to support any crop.
An exciting ornamental, producing beautiful red "powderpuff" flowers, it forms
attractive hedges. Planted in strips on Indonesian state forest lands to
protect the forest against fire (as well as illegal woodcutting). Honey
produced by bees foraging on Calliandra has a bittersweet flavor. The species
grows very quickly, its dense foliage provides ground cover, and its extensive
and deep root system makes Calliandra particularly suitable for erosion control
on slopes and for rejuvenating degraded soils. By nitrogen fixation and litter
production, Calliandra improves soil quality and productivity. Farmers in East
Java sometimes rotate agricultural crops with Calliandra plantations.
Calliandra serves as a suitable host for the shellac insect, Kerria
lacca (NAS, 1980a, l983b).
Closely related Calliandra houstoni is reported to be febrifugal in
homeopathic doses (List and Horhammer, 19691979). The root bark has been sold
in Mexico under the name 'pambotani'.
Calliandra houstoni is reported to contain tannin, fat, resin,
glycosides, alkaloids, and saponins (List and Horhammer, 19691979). Dry
"No toxic components have been found so far, although tannin levels are high."
Slender shrubs, rarely to 10 m tall, nearly glabrous; leaves with 1520 pairs
of pinnae; the leaflets rounded or very obtuse, not curved. Flowers in pink,
mimosa-like "powderpuffs", the corolla glabrous or nearly so. Pods 811 cm
long, ca 1 cm wide, with 315 seeds (14,000/kg).
Reported from the American Center of Diversity, calliandra, or cvs thereof, is
reported to tolerate heavy soils, poor soils, some shade, slope, and weeds (NAS
1980a, 1983b). It does not tolerate prolonged waterlogging, nor poorly drained
calcareous clay soils.
The plant is native to Central America, but seeds were introduced from
Guatemala to Indonesia in 1936. Calliandra proved so successful as a
plantation crop that in 1950 the Indonesian State Forest Enterprise (Perum
Perhutani) began planting it on a large scale, so that by early 1979 about
30,000 ha in Central, East, and West Java were under cultivation.
Estimated to range from Subtropical Dry to Rain through Tropical Moist to Wet
Forest Life Zones, this Calliandra is reported to tolerate annual precipitation
of 1044 dm and estimated to tolerate annual temperatures of 2026°C
and pH of 4.58.0. On Java, the plant grows at altitudes between 150 and 1,500
m. It can withstand drought for several months. It grows on many different
soils, including infertile ones (reported from andosols, laterites, latosols,
litosols, podsols, regosols, ultisols, and vertisols; NAS, 1983b) tiles, or
bricks. It converts to charcoal (34% yield in one test) with a fuel value of
7,200 kcal/kg. Indonesians estimate one hectare can produce 14 tons charcoal
Plantations are established by direct seeding or by seedlings, usually Planted
at the beginning of the wet season. Seedlings are transplanted from nurseries
at about 46 months, spaced at 2m x 2m or 1m x 1m. Seeds are treated with hot
water and then soaked in cold water for 24 hours. Because it grows so rapidly
and densely, Calliandra supresses competing plants very quickly. There is
little information on performance of this species on different sites. The
plant is so hardy and reproduces so easily that it may become a weed of sorts,
difficult to keep in check.
Cut as needed, regenerating rapidly. Cut stumps coppice readily.
Indonesian trials showed initial growth of 2.53.5 m in 69 months. After 1
year's growth, calliandra can be cut at about 50 cm above the ground,
reportedly yielding about 520 m3 per ha. Afterwards, yearly
cuttings are possible, producing between 35 and 65 m3 of small-sized
fuelwood per ha, a rather incredible yield. In Indonesia, annual yields of
710 MT of dry fodder (22% crude protein) per ha have been recorded. In
Toyomarto, East Java, villagers earn more money selling calliandra firewood
than they do from food crops, often intercropped with calliandra. A hectare of
Calliandra is estimated to Yield 1 MT honey (NAS, 1983b).
In parts of Java, Calliandra is a favorite fuelwood. (In one instance, an
experimental plantation of 0.5 ha was established in 1963; by 1975, over 250 ha
of firewood plantations had been independently established on nearby privately
owned farms and home lots.) The wood has a specific gravity of 0.510.78, its
calorific value is 4,5004,750 kcal per kg, and its ash content is 1.8%. It is
used for cooking as well as in small industries; for example, those making
lime, derived from Calliandra calothyrsus contains 22% protein, 3075%
fiber, 45% ash, 23% fat, and 13% tannin. There is ca 1%
Bees forage heavily on the flowers. Ravenelia reticulatae, a rust, has
been reported on an Arizonan species of Calliandra called False-mesquite
(Ag. Handbook 165). Few pests have been reported from Calliandra
calothyrsus in Indonesiaa scale insect on branches and stems, a trunk
borer, and a looper eating the leaves. Snails and rats may destroy seedlings
in nurseries. Fungi (e.g. Corticium salmonicola and Xylaria sp.)
may kill weakened stems following careless coppicing (NAS, 1983b).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Agriculture Handbook 165. 1960. Index of plant diseases in the United States. USGPO. Washington.
- List, P.H. and Horhammer, L. 19691979. Hager's handbuch der pharmazeutischen praxis. vols 26. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- N.A.S. 1980a. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
- N.A.S. 1983b. Alcohol fuelsoptions for developing countries. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Last update Tuesday, December 30, 1997