Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Steud.
Madre de cacao
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
According to the National Academy of Sciences (1980a), the leaves contain over
20% crude protein and are nutritious for cattle though TOXIC to most other
animals including horses. The tree is widely planted as shade for chocolate,
coffee, tea, and vanilla. There are few "living fence" species that strike
root from cuttings more readily, also widely planted as a hedge and/or
windbreak. Tilth and fertility of the soil beneath the trees are greatly
improved from the leaf- and flower-fall. The timber is said to finish smoothly
and be used for furniture, agricultural instruments, posts, railroad ties, and
heavy construction. Flowers are a good source of forage for bees. Flowers are
consumed by Mexican rural inhabitants who use the pods for rat poison. In the
Philippines, the foetid leaves are crushed and rubbed onto cattle. In
Indonesia, the tree is planted as a firebreak. This and other fast-growing
leguminous trees have the vigor to outgrow or compete with the Imperata grass.
In the shade of Gliricida, the grass finally dies, leaving nothing that
can sustain a grass fire (NAS, 1980a).
Reported to be expectorant, insecticidal, rodenticidal, sedative, suppurative,
Madre de Cacao is a folk remedy for alopecia, boils, bruises, burns, colds,
cough, debility, eruptions, erysipelas, fever, fractures, gangrene, head-ache,
itch, prickly heat, rheumatism, skin, sore, tumors, ulcers, urticaria, and
wounds (Duke and Wain, 1981).
According to Roskoski et al. (1980), studying Mexican material, the seeds
contain 11.93% humidity, 1.90% ash, 33.00% CP, 16.50% CF EE, 9.07% CF, 27.60%
carbohydrates with a 52.42% in vitro digestibility. The foliage contains
11.96% humidity, 12.09% ash, 19.92% CP, 2.34% crude fat, 11.04% CF, 42.65%
carbohydrates, and 69.69% in vitro digestibility. Low levels of alkaloids were
found in the seed and saponins in the foliage, but the plant is still used for
forage. Allen and Allen (1981) cite data suggesting that fallen leaves emit
the new-mown-hay odor, because of the occurrence of coumarin compounds.
Smooth deciduous tree to 10 m tall, 2030 cm DBH. Leaves alternate, pinnately
compound, 1530 cm long, the 913 leaflets 36 cm long, opposite, oblong-ovate,
bluntly pointed at the tip, rounded at the base, entire. Flowers on numerous
lateral racemes, often on leafless branches, the clusters 5125 cm long;
flowers pinkish, ca 2 cm long; stamens 10, 9 united in a tube, one separate,
white. Pods yellow-green when immature, turning blackish 1014 cm long, 12 cm
broad, with 38 elliptic, flat, shiny, blackish seed (ca 4,400/kg).
Reported from the American Center of Diversity, Madre de Cacao, or cvs thereof,
is reported to tolerate drought, limestone, slope, and weeds. (2n = 20)
Native from Mexico to Colombia, Venezuela, and the Guianas, widely introduced
and naturalized throughout the tropics.
Ranging from Subtropical Thorn to Wet through Tropical Thorn to Wet Forest Life
Zones, Madre de Cacao is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 4.8 to
41.0 dm (mean of 79 cases = 16.2), annual temperature of 21.3 to 28.5°C
(mean of 61 cases = 25.3), and pH of 4.3 to 5.0 (mean of 2 cases = 4.6) (Duke,
Soak seeds 24 hours in lukewarm water and sow directly in potting soil in
prepared pots (10 x 15 mm) wrapped in polyethylene. Move to shade for three
weeks after germination, watering as needed. Use insecticide/fungicide once a
month or as needed. Hardened 23 month old seedlings may be outplanted,
avoiding midday heat, at the beginning of the rainy season (Fabian, 1981).
Roskoski et al. (1980) note that the tree is easily propagated from seeds
(which require no special treatment) or cuttings. Cuttings are used to make
living fences throughout the tropics.
Living fences may be lopped for fuel or fodder as needed.
In Sri Lankan tea plantations, an average tree gave 64 kg green loppings per
year (Allen and Allen, 1981). Studying Mexican material, Roskoski et al (1980)
concluded that there were 44.1 (± 14.9) moles N2 fixed per gram of nodule per
hour in one assay, 11.7 ± 2.6 in another. One stand was fixing N at the rate
of 13 kg/ha/yr.
Wood coppiced from living fences of Gliricidia sepium is burned for fuel
by the rural population of Veracruz, Mexico. Annual productivity has not yet
been determined here. The calorific value of the wood is 4,900 kcal/kg.
In Puerto Rico, the foliage is often attacked by aphids that secrete a sweet
honeydew which attracts ants, causing the leaves to fall. On the other hand,
the wood is said to be highly resistant to termites and decay.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Allen, O.N. and Allen, E.K. 1981. The Leguminosae. The University of Wisconsin
Press. 812 p.
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- N.A.S. 1980a. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production.
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
- Roskoski, J.P., Gonzalez, G.C., Dias, M.I.F., Tejeda, E.P., and Vargas-Mena y
Amezcua. 1980. Woody tropical legumes: potential sources of forage, firewood,
and soil enrichment. p. 135155. In: SERI: Tree crops for energy co-production
on farms. SERI/CP-622-1086. USGPO. Washington.
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw