Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Mother of cocoa, tree of iron, Mexican lilac, quick stick.

+ Tree Species

Gliricidia sepium

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Gliricidia sepium is native to Mexico and Central America, viz. Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It is a small tree grown widely in the tropics due to its fast growth and multiple uses. It grows on a variety of soils, both acidic and low in fertility, mainly in humid tropical lowlands or lake basins, up to 1,600 m. Not yet widely distributed in Uganda, it has been planted at Entebbe, around Kampala and in trials in Kabale. In Kampala, Gliricidia sepium can be found at Mawanda road, Yusuf Lule, Makerere Univeristy, Uganda Golf course club among other places.

+ Description

Gliricidia is a shrub or small tree with a medium-sized, open crown; it can grow 2 - 15 meters tall. The bole is twisted, or grows at an angle, up to 30cm in diameter. In its native range, with a clearly defined dry season, the plant is deciduous, but may be evergreen and flower sporadically through the year in areas with rain all year round.

BARK: grey-light brown, smooth, cracked with age.

LEAVES: fern-like, with many pointed leaflets on a leaf stalk to 25 cm, hanging down.

FLOWERS: pretty, mauve-pink, center yellow, grow on the woody stems.

FRUIT: pods, thin and flat to 15 cm long, yellow-grey then black when dry; 3-8 seeds set free when pod breaks open.

+ Uses

Medicine: the plant is a folk remedy for alopecia, boils, bruises, burns, colds, cough, debility, eruptions, erysipelas, fever, fractures, gangrene, headache, itch, prickly heat, rheumatism, skin tumours, ulcers, urticaria and wounds. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Gliricidia+sepium

Agroforestry: can be used as a shade tree for perennial crops such as tea, coffee and cocoa, used as a nurse tree for shade-loving species, serves to suppress weed growth and control erosion, used to support black pepper, vanilla and yams, increases soil organic matter, it aids in the recycling of soil nutrients as it produces much litter, improves soil aeration and reduces soil temperature, fixes nitrogen, leaves, shoots and pods are fodder to the animals, provides bee forage.

Suitable species for live fencing and for delineating boundaries.

The seeds and roots are used as a rat and mice poison respectively. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Gliricidia+sepium

Provides timber which is for railway sleepers, farm implements, tool handles, furniture, house construction and as mother posts in live-fence establishment.

The wood is used for fuel and charcoal production.

Edible: flowers can be fried and eaten. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Gliricidia_sepium.PDF, http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Gliricidia+sepium

An ornamental.

+ Propagation

Seeds, cuttings.

+ Management

A fast-growing species; coppicing, pollarding, lopping.

+ Remarks

The Latin name means "rat killer" as a poison can be made from the leaves. Bark, roots and seeds may also contain poison. Although leaves can be fodder for goats and cattle, they are toxic to non-ruminants such as horses, donkeys and pigs. As leaves are not very palatable, mix with grass, straw or other roughage as a high-protein supplement. A very useful quick fence can be grown with crossed stakes which sprout easily. Wood is resistant to termites. The tree has been used to form a fire belt around forests and farms as it is fire resistant. Not yet well known in Uganda.

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