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Leucaena leucocephala


Leucaena glauca, Leucaena latisiliqua [3]

Vernacular Names:


Petai Belalang, Petai Jawa, Ipil-ipil

English Leucaena

Lamtoro (Javanese); Pelending (Sundanese); Petai Cina, Kemlandingan, Metir, Petai Selong


Krathin (general), To-bao (southern)


Ipil-ipil, Elena (Tagalog), Palo-maria (Bikol), Kariskis (Llokano)


Keo d[aaj]u, Bo ch[es]t


Khtum te:hs, Krathum’ the:t


Kathin, Kan thin Kh’o:ng ko:ng kha:w

Papua New Guinea





Leucaene, Faux mimosa


Uaxim [2] [3] [4]

General Information


Leucaena leucocephala is a member of the Fabaceae family. It is a shrub or tree up to 20m tall, with greyish bark and prominent lenticels; branchlets are terete, at the top densely grey pubescent. The leaves bipinnate with 3-10 pairs of pinnae, variable in length up to 35cm with an orbicular gland (up to 5mm) below the proximal pair of pinnae. The stipules are small while the pinnae measures 10cm long. The leaflets are opposite with 5-20 pairs per pinna, linear or linear-oblong in shape, measuring (6-)8-16(-21)mm x 1-2(-5)mm, base slightly asymmetrically cuneate, apex acute or short-apic-ulate, both surfaces glabrous, margins ciliate, lower surface glaucous. The inflorescence consisting of pedunculate glomerules aggregated up to 3 in leaf axils or in terminal raceme. The peduncle measures 2-5cm long and densely grey pubescent. The glomerule measures 2-5cm in diametre and white in colour. The flowers numerous, in globose heads with a diametre of 2-5cm, white in clour; calyx tubular-campanulate measuring about 2.5mm long, puberulous at apex, teeth triangular and acute. The petals spathulate measure 4.5-5mm long, puberulous; stamens 10, free, creamy-white to greenish-white; filaments 8-10mm long; anthers pilose, dehiscing at dawn; pistil 10mm long, ovary stipitate, velutinous at apex. Pod membranous, straight, dehiscent.[3]

Plant Part Used

Leaves, seeds and roots [2][4][5][6]

Chemical Constituents

Calcium, cellulose, galactomannan, hemicelluloses, lignin, magnesium, mimosine, nitrogen, phosphorus, polyphenols, potassium [4][5]

Traditional Used:

Gastrointestinal Diseases

The bark of L. leucocephala is used to treat diarrhea while the seeds are good for expelling worms.[2] [5]

Relief Insect bites

The young shoots are taken internally to relieve insect bites. Some people pound the leaves and apply on the stings and bites instead.[2] [4] [6]

Skin Diseases

The ash of the leaves of L. leucocephala is applied over sore and vesicles of chicken pox to enhance healing processes. The powdered seed mixed with water is applied to the skin to relieve itching, smoothen and soften the skin. The same is also used to promote growth of hair. However, in Mexico it was observed that when horses eat the leaves they tend to lose their tail hairs.[2][4][6]

Other Uses

An infusion of the leaves is used to treat a disease characterized by headache and pain in the heart. Decoction of the leaves is used to calm nerves, treat fever, flatulence, menstrual cramps, severe backache and fever. The pounded leaves is pasted over the neck to relieve cough. The fruit is used to treat renal calculi, hypertension and diabetes. The roots is considered an emmenagogue and is used to treat menstrual cramps too. A decoction of the roots is taken to treat chest congestion, fever and severe backache.[2][4][6]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

Antifungal activity

Chitinase cDNAs from L. leucocephala seedlings cloned and recombined showed antifungal activity in 13 out of 14 fungal strains tested.[7]

Antiviral activity

Study on the antiviral activity of the galactomannan (LLS) isolated from seeds of L. leucocephala against yellow fever virus (YFV; BeH111 strain) and dengue 1 virus (DEN-1; Hawaii strain). In vivo studies with young mice infected with YFV intraperitoneally, it was found that the LLS could protect the mice against death up to 96.5%. When challaged with 37.5 LD50 of YFV, mice previously inoculated with LLS+virus showed 100% resistance. In vitro studies with YFV and DEN-1 in C6/36 cell culture assays in 24-well microplates showed that concentrations that produced a 100-fold decrease in virus titer of YFV was 385mg/l and for DEN-1 at 37mg/l.[8]

Acaricidal activity

L. leucocephala showed acaricidal activity in the larval stage of Rhipicephalus microplus but did not affect the adult ticks.[9]

Anti-inflammatory activity

Chemically modified polysaccharides extract derived from L. leucocephala seeds showed potent anti-inflammatory activity. The C-glycosidic 2-propanol derivative was an effective radical scavenger to hydroxyl, peroxyl and superoxide anion radicals and could enhance the macrophage proliferation and phagocytosis of FITC-zymosan. It also inhibited nitric oxide generation and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) secretion in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated (LPS) Raw macrophage 264.7 and strongly inhibited the binding affinity of FITC-LPS to Raw 264.7 cells. The sulphated derivative on the other hand over induced NO generation and TNF-alpha secretion while enhancing the macrophage proliferation and phagocytosis.[10] The serine proteinase inhibitor isolated from the seeds of L. leucocephala was found to decrease paw oedema induced by carrageenin of heat in male Wistar rats. There was also a lower concentration of bradykinin in perfusion fluid of LITI-treated rats.[11]

Blood coagulation activity

Study by[11] isolating a serine proteinase inhibitor (LITI) from the seeds of L. leucocephala. and found to prolong activated partial thromboplastin time and also inhibit fibrinolytic activity of plasmin.


The leaves and mature seeds contain the toxic amino acid mimosine, which inhibits DNA synthesis and thus has particular influence on the rapidly dividing cells producing hair growth. The mimosine content is highest in rapidly growing leaf tips. In ruminant animals, the mimosine is converted to 3,4-dihydroxypyridene, which impairs the incorporation of iodine into the thyroid, thus producing goiter-like symptoms. The toxic properties are mostly inactivated by cooking the plant in an iron or aluminum pot or roasting the seeds.[1]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

The roots is considered an emmenagogue and pregnant women are advised against its use for whatever purpose for fear of abortion.[4]

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


    1. David W. Nellis, Poisonous plants and animals of Florida and the Caribbean, Pineapple Press, Inc., Florida, 1997. pg202
    2. Marianna Appel Kunow, Maya medicine: traditional healing in Yucatan, University of New Mexico Press, New Mexico, 2003. pg126
    3. I. Faridah Hanum and L.J.G Van der Maesen (Editors), PROSEA : Plant Resources of South-East Asia 11, Auxiliary Plants, pg175-177
    4. Hean Chooi Ong, Vegetables for Health and Healing, Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, 2008. pg122-123
    5. Ong Hean Chooi, Sayuran: Khasiat Makanan & Ubatan, Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, 2003. Pg82-83
    6. Jabatan Perhutanan Semenanjung Malaysia. [ Accessed on 22/12/200]
    7. Kaomek M, Mizuno K, Fujimura T, Sriyotha P, Cairns JR. Cloning, expression, and characterization of an antifungal chitinase from Leucaena leucocephala de Wit. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2003 Apr;67(4):667-76.
    8. Ono L, Wollinger W, Rocco IM, Coimbra TL, Gorin PA, Sierakowski MR. In vitro and in vivo antiviral properties of sulfated galactomannans against yellow fever virus (BeH111 strain) and dengue 1 virus (Hawaii strain). Antiviral Res. 2003 Nov;60(3):201-8.
    9. Fernández-Salas A, Alonso-Díaz MA, Acosta-Rodríguez R, Torres-Acosta JF, Sandoval-Castro CA, Rodríguez-Vivas RI. In vitro acaricidal effect of tannin-rich plants against the cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Acari: Ixodidae). Vet Parasitol. 2011 Jan 10;175(1-2):113-8. Epub 2010 Sep 22.

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