Int J Pharm Pharm Sci, Vol 10, Issue 1, 1-7Review Article



1Forestry and Wood Technology Department, Faculty of Agriculture (EL-Shatby), Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt, 2Animal and Fish Production Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Alexandria University, Alexandria, El-Shatby, Egypt, 3Plant Production Department, Food and Agricultural Sciences College, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Received: 03 Mar 2017 Revised and Accepted: 22 Nov 2017


Leucaena leucocephala trees are commonly known as White Lead tree. It is native to Southern Mexico and Northern Central America and spread across many tropical and sub-tropical locations. It has multipurpose uses, such as generation of firewood, timber, greens, fodder, and green manure, as well as to provide shade and control soil erosion. It has been used for medicinal purposes because of possessing multiple pharmacological properties. Studies have shown the presence of various secondary metabolites such as alkaloid, cardiac glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, and glycosides in this species. In traditional medicine, it is used to control stomach ache and as contraception and abortifacient. In the present study, the global distribution, taxonomy, chemical composition, pharmacological activities, and potential uses of Leucaena leucocephalaare discussed.

Keywords: Leucaena leucocephala, Medicinally, Multipurpose, Pharmacological activities, Traditional medicine


Leucaena leucocephala (Family: Fabaceae) is a small, fast-growing tree, and has multiple common names by which it is known such as White Lead tree, White Popinac, Jumbay, and Wild Tamarind [1]. It is native to Southern Mexico and Northern Central America and diffused in over 35 countries across all continents, except Antarctica (table 1) [2].

Table 1: The global distribution of Leucaena leucocephala [2]

Region Countries
Africa Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde Is, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaire and Zimbabwe
Asia Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan
Australasia Australia, Papua New Guinea (New Guinea, New Britain and Bismarck Archipelago)
Caribbean Bahamas, Bermuda, CaymanIs, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico
Central America Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Europe Spain
Indian Ocean Aldabra, Chagos, Archipelago, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion Is. (Rodrigues Is., Seychelles, and Christmas Island.
Middle East Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
North America United States in Arizona, Georgia, Virgin Islands, Texas, Florida and Hawaii
Pacific Ocean Caroline outer islands (Fiji), Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea)
South America Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela

Leucaena originated from the Greek words “leuc,” which means “white,” and “caen,”which means “new,” referring to the whitish flowers. The species name also refers to the flowers: leucocephala from “leu,” meaning white, and “cephala,” meaning “head.”L. leucocephala was known as a miracle tree because of its worldwide success as a long-lived and highly nutritious forage tree used to produce firewood, timber, human food, green manure, shade and also to control erosion. It is estimated to cover 2-5 million ha worldwide [3-5].

Medicinally it has been used for its antimicrobial, anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-proliferative and antidiabetic, anticancer, cancer preventive, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant; antitumor, antihistaminic, nematicide, pesticide, anti-androgenic, hypo-cholesterolemic, and hepatoprotective properties [6]. It spreads as a shrub or small tree growing up to 10 m in height throughout the cleared areas and forms dense thickets [7]. Leucaena species is an evergreen, drought-tolerant shrub or small tree, which flowers abundantly. Some species of Leucaena can grow up to 20 m in height and those are known as the Salvadorian type. Those species are considered as weeds in many parts of the world [8]. Leucaena leaves appear similar to those of tamarind, having white flowers tinged with yellow, and having long flattened pods. Seeds are dark brown with the hard shining seed coat. It has hard heavy wood (about 800 kg/m), with a pale yellow sapwood and light reddish-brown heartwood. Bark on young branches is smooth and grey-brown or salmon pink, whereas older barks are darker grey-brown, and rough with shallow, rusty orange-brown vertical fissures, and deep red inner bark [9].

Taxonomical classification

Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Tracheobionta
Superdivision Spermatophyta
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Subclass Rosidae
Order Fabales
Family Fabaceae-Pea family
Genus Leucaena Benth.–lead tree
Species Leucaena leucocephala

Other names

Arabic: Leuceana

English: Leucaena, Jumpy-bean, Wild tamarind, Lead tree, White popinac, White

Lead tree, Horse tamarind.

French: Faux mimosa, Leucene, Delin étranger

Hindi: kadam, Toira, Subabul, Tagari, Koo babul, Lamtoro, Ku-babul

Indonesian: Klandingan, Lamtoro, Petai cina, Pelending

Japanese: Kladingan, Lamtoro.

Malay: Ipil-ipil, Petai jawa, Petai belalang

Spanish: Guaje, Salvador leucaena, Peru leucaena, Giant leucaena, Acacia bella rosa

Amharic: Lukina

Filipino: Elana, Kariskis, Palo-maria, Ipil ipil

Chinese: Yin he huan

Botanical description

The leaves of L. leucocephala are compound pinnate; pinnular rachis 5-10.2 cm long in general, are bipinnate with 6–8 pairs of pinnae bearing 9–20 pairs leaflets, linear-lanceolate 8–15 mm long, 2–4.5 mm wide, slightly asymmetric, acute at tip, linear-oblong to weakly elliptic, glabrous except on margins rounded to obtuse at base. L. leucocephala leaves fold up due to heat, cold or lack of water [10]. The paired inflorescences of axillary globose head measures between 12 and 20 mm in diameter, with the peduncle length measuring between 2 and 3 cm, and numerous flowers produced. The axillaries are on long stalks, white in color, in dense global heads measuring 1–2 cm across; fruit pod with raised border, flat, thin; becoming dark brown and hard when mature, 10–15 cm long, 1.6–2.5 cm wide, dehiscent at both sutures and each legume contains 15–20 hard, shiny, brown seeds that are flat and tear-drop shaped. This species is a polyploid with 2n = 104 chromosomes [11-15].

Flowering phenology of L. leucocephala varies widely among varieties and with respect to their growing location. However, it can flower all year-round [16]. L. leucocephala starts flowering within 4 to 6 mo of seed germination. Usually, the flowering period is seasonal or twice a year. The spherical whitish flower heads are 2to 2.5 cm in diameter, 100 to 180 flowers for each head, 2 to 6 in leaf axils per group, arising on actively growing young shoots. The color of flowers can be white or pale cream-white and are borne on stalks 2 to 3 cm long at the ends or sides of twigs [8, 16].

Pods measure from 11 cm to 19 cm long, 15 mm to 21 mm wide, 5 to 20 for each flower head, linear-oblong shape, rounded at apex, flat, 8 to 18 seeded, mid-to orange-brown, glabrous and slightly lustrous in white velvety hairs, papery, opening along both margins. The seeds are hard, dark brown with a hard shining testa measured from 6.7 mm to 9.6 mm long, 4 mm to 6.3 mm wide, aligned transversely in pod.

From the first year onward, the fruits grow in abundance. The seeds are small (8 mm long), shiny, teardrop-shaped, flat and dark brown with a thin but fairly durable seed coat. There are about 17,000 to 21,000 seeds per kilogram [17, 18]. The dispersal agents of the seeds in pastures are legumes, wind, ruminants, and non-ruminants. Legumes can release the seeds while they are still on the tree. The wind can carry the seeds to some distances. Ruminants and non-ruminants can eat the legumes and then disperse the seeds through their fecal matters [17, 18].

Harvested fruits and germination requirements

Leucaena leucocephala fruits are harvested from branches when it changes their color to dark brown before dehiscence. The fruits are sun-dried after harvest and then threshed to release seeds by beating the dried legumes in cloth bags [16]. L. leucocephala seeds can then be stored as un-scarified or scarified seeds. Unscarified seeds can be stored for more than one year under dry conditions at ambient temperature and up to 5 y when stored at 2 °C to 6 °C, dried. In contrast, scarified seeds can be stored for 6 mo to a year [16, 19, 20].

The harvested seeds of L. leucocephala should be decontaminated from larvae using fumigation by exposing the seeds to 32 g/m methyl bromide for 2 h at 27 °C. Although seeds can be sown directly after harvest without pre-sowing treatment, the seed germination, in that scenario becomes very low. Therefore, to increase the rate of germination, one of the pre-sowing treatments such as scarification, hot water treatment and/or sulfuric acid treatment should be used. Soaking L. leucocephala seeds in 100 °C water for 20 s and subsequently in water at room temperature for 48 h had the highest seed germination rate, higher cumulative germination (CGP) and shortened period of complete dormancy (CDP),when compared to the germination rate when seeds were soaked for only 24 h or untreated seeds [21].

Soaking L. leucocephala seeds in hot water at 80 °C for 3–4 min followed by soaking in the water at room temperature for 12 h or soaking L. leucocephala seeds in concentrated sulfuric acid for 15–30 min are the best pre-sowing treatments that can be used to increase the seed germination of L. leucocephala. However, scarification is the most effective treatment that can be used as pre-sowing inoculation of seeds as it facilitates good field establishment of nitrogen-fixing rhizobium bacteria in soil devoid of rhizobia strains [20].

Germination percentage of L. leucocephala seeds are 50 % to 98 % for fresh seeds [8, 19]. The complete dormancy period for scarified seeds are 6 to 10 d after sowing and for unscarified seeds are 6 to 60 d after sowing [20]. The sowing of L. leucocephala seeds should be on or near the soil surface, but not any deeper than 2 cm. For growth in the nursery, the growing medium should be well drained, have proper nutrients and water holding capacity, and have a pH between 5.5 and 7.5 [16]. Light shade is recommended during the seedling development and full sun thereafter [16]. In young seedlings, taproot development is rapid and seedlings reach plantable size of 20 cm height in 2 to 3 mo [16, 22]. Weeding in plantations, until the seedlings outgrow competing grasses or herbaceous competitors in plant biomass, is recommended [16]. Direct seeding by planting container seedlings, bare root seedlings and stem cuttings of 2 to 5 cm in diameter can be used as a method of plantation development [23]. It grows moderately rapid but not as fast as the giant variety for which most of the data are available [24].

Chemical composition and nutritive value

The chemical composition analysis of the leaves of L. leucocephala from Malaysia revealed the presence of 30 compounds: tetratetracontane, oxalic acid, allyl hexadecyl ester, squalene, Octacosane, hexatriacontane, 5-octadecene, 1-octadecyne, 3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol, pentadecanoic acid, 14-methyl-, methyl ester, 9,12-octadecadienoic acid, methyl ester, hexadecanoic acid, 15-methyl-, methyl ester, 9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid, methyl ester and 3,7,11-tridecatrienenitrile, 4,8,12-trimethyl, 2-dodecene, 7-hexadecene,, 5-eicosene, 9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid, methyl ester, 1-docosene, heptacosanoic acid, methyl ester, n-hexadecanoic acid, phytol and squalene [6]. The major chemical constituents of the leaves of L. leucocephala from Malaysia were Squalene (41.02%), Phytol (33.80%), 3, 7,11,15-Tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol (30.86%) and 3,7,11-Tridecatrienenitrile, 4,8,12-trimethyl (25.64%) [6], whereas the principal chemical constituents of the leaf extracts of the same species from Mexico were 2(H)-benzofuranone-5,6,7,7a-tetrahydro-4,4,7a-trimethyl, pentadecanoic acid-14-methyl-methyl ester, and 6,10,14-trimethyl-2-pentadecanone a ketone [25]. For whole plants of L. leucocephala from China the chemical composition were ficaprenol-11 (polyprenol), squalene, lupeol,-sitostenone, trans-coumaric acid, cis-coumaric acid, pheophytin-a, pheophorbide a methyl ester, methyl-132-hydroxy-(132-S)-pheophorbide-b and aristophyll-C [26].

The animal feeding pattern of Leucaena in Indonesia was studied by Lowry [27]. L. leucocephala is was known as a high potential fodder for several centuries. Its nutritional value is comparable or superior to alfalfa (Medicago sativa) with high ß-carotene content [24]. The leaves of L. leucocephala are most commonly used to feed chicken and pigs and processed as a pellet for freshwater fish. The dry matter digestibility (DMD) of L. leucocephala was 57.7% and crude protein based on the dry matter was 29.5% [28].

Forage quality of L. leucocephala is higher than other Leucaena species such as L. pallida and L. diversifolia as stated by Castillo et al. [29]. Leaves of L. leucocephala contained 6.70% moisture, 22.76% crude protein, 22.29% crude fibre, 4.60% fat, and 9.73% ash content [30]. In another study by El-Baha [31], leaves were reported to contain the highest percentage of minerals (12.5% and 14.0%), pods the highest percentage of crude protein (33.0% and 30.9%), twigs contained the highest percentage of crude fiber (31.5% and 37%) and calcium (1.9% and 2.1%), and dry seeds possessed the highest percentage of crude fat (7.2% and 10.1%) and nitrogen free extract (55.9% and 58.8%) for the 2-and 4-years-old plants, respectively.

Use of Leucaena leucocephala as ruminant feeds

Forage containing 40% to 60% L. leucocephala leaves gave a maximum gain in weight in rabbits, goats, sheep, and cows. Rushkin [32] reported that “L. leucocephala is palatable forage, digestible and serves to increase milk output in both the humid and the monsoonal tropics for ruminants and non-ruminants. However, when L. leucocephala is fed at levels above 7.5% (dry mass) of the diet, non-ruminants lost weight and had general health problems due to the mimosine toxicity.” When using L. leucocephala leaves in a rationed manner for fattening cattle, it is equivalent to cottonseed cake [33] and superior to groundnut cake [34]. In Queensland, Australia, a very high live weight gain was recorded using L. leucocephala leaves [32, 34-35] and the same is done as well in several other places [36].

Several reports showed that L. leucocephala could be a substitute for the imported protein supplements fed to dairy cows [32]. Dairy cattle produce well when fed with L. leucocephala [32, 37]. Henke and Morita [38] reported that dairy cows produce milk with higher fat content when they are fed with L. leucocephala compared to similar cows fed on pasture and concentrates or ammoniated rice straw in the grass-based diet. In Australia, Hawaii and Indonesia, annual milk production of 5,000 to 9,700 L/ha was recorded [32]. Feeding cows and buffaloes on L. leucocephala foliage at 10% of their diets produce higher milk yield by 20% than that of the control group [39]. Jones [40] reported that feeding dairy cows on L. leucocephala foliage increases milk fat and protein contents and also increases milk production by 14% on average. Feeding dairy cows on grazing Brachiaria decumbens with L. leucocephala produce higher milk yield than cows fed only with grass. However, the use of L. leucocephala for cattle feedings has problems, due to mimosine toxicity. Symptoms of mimosine toxicity include infertility, decreased weight gain, goiter, cataract in young animals, and loss of hair [41]. Cattle fed completely on L. leucocephala will not die but may lose some of their coarse hairs. However, newborn calves have shown signs of enlarged thyroids, which may result in death within a few days if their mothers have signs of toxicity [42]. In addition, thyroxine levels were accounted to be higher in the group (10-month age) fed on an exclusive diet of L. leucocephala for 23 mo [43].

In sheep, L. leucocephala provides very palatable forage. Higher performances in sheep were noted when it is fed on dried L. leucocephala leaves at levels between 25% and50% of grass hay [44, 45]. In diet scarcity periods, sheep can be fed on higher amounts of dried L. leucocephala leaves [45-46]. The leaf meal or fresh leaves are comparable to rice straw in the grass-based diet of sheep because it increases DM intake, protein intake, N retention and thus improves growth performance of sheep and therefore is suitable to replace concentrated or ammoniated rice straw in the grass-based diet of sheep [47, 48]. Feeding ruminant animals on L. leucocephala foliage increased survival rate and growth rate, for instance in lambs [49-51], rams [52, 53], and ewes [54].

In goats, L. leucocephala provides very palatable, digestible, and nutritious forage. L. leucocephala gives better dry matter intake, weight gain, and reproductive performance than other legumes such as alfalfa, Lablab purpureus, and Gliricidia sepium [54-57]. In a grass-based diet for goat, L. leucocephala dry matter foliage can be included at 30% to 75% [58-60], and it does not affect the goats’ growth and milk production [60]. Fresh or wilted L. leucocephala is better than dried L. leucocephala leaves as a dry matter intake, growth rate and nitrogen utilization [61]. Angora goats fed on natural pastures with 45% of L. leucocephala leaf meal showed higher crude protein intake, weight gain and fibre growth [62, 63].

Leucaena leucocephala as non-ruminant feeds

Ruminant animals are able to tolerate mimosine than non-ruminants and therefore, L. leucocephala could not be a major portion of the non-ruminant diet. They could tolerate rations that contain up to 5% to 10% L. leucocephala (dry weight) [32]. The best rations used to growing pigs were 5% to 10% of L. leucocephala leaf meals [64, 65]. To improve nitrogen retention, L. leucocephala was treated with acetic acid (30 g/kg) or zeolite (5%) and up to 20% L. leucocephala leaves or leaf meal can then be used to feed pigs [66, 67]. Using up to 40% of L. leucocephala leaves in camel rations reduced feed conversion efficiency [67].

In poultry, 5%, 20% and 30% of L. leucocephala leaf meal in the diet caused a decline of feed intake, weight gain and egg production [68-70]. These low performances may be due to the toxicity of mimosine or poor amino acid digestibility [71]. 5% of L. leucocephala leaf meal in rations of broilers gave higher feed conversion [72]. 15% of roasted L. leucocephala leaves can be included in rations with no effect on the decline of animal performance [73]. In laying hens, 6% of L. leucocephala leaf meal in rations is recommended [74]. L. leucocephala can be used to reduce feed costs, improve animal performance and yolk colour by the xanthophyll which is extracted from L. leucocephala leaves [75].

Feeding rabbits on fresh or dried L. leucocephala or leaf meal improve animal performance. The inclusion of 24% to 40% of fresh L. leucocephala leaves is recommended for growing or fattening rabbits [76-81]. L. leucocephala can replace concentrate alfalfa (Medicago sativa) in the diet of rabbits [82]. L. leucocephala is more palatable than Arachis pintoi. 25% of L. leucocephala leaf meal can be included in supplementing a diet with cassava peels and Gliricidia sepium and 30% to 40% with Arachis pintoi. [83]. However, when more than 10% to 15% dried L. leucocephala was included in the diet and replaced with wheat bran resulted in a decrease in growth in rabbits. [84]. 20% to 25% of fresh L. leucocephala leaves in diet resulted up to 55% mortality of female and young rabbits [85-86].

For fish, a few studies have been used with L. leucocephala leaf meal as a protein source in fish feeds and the data obtained are conflicting. Hossain et al. [87] revealed improved growth responses of Clarias gariepinus (African catfish) on diets containing 30% L. leucocephala leaf meal. However, Santiago et al. [88] obtained slow growth rate of C. macrocephalus (Asian catfish) on diets in which 30% of the fish meal was replaced by L. leucocephala leaf meal.

Leucaena leucocephala as human food

Almost every part of the L. leucocephala species is consumed as human food since the era of the Mayans [6]. In Indonesia, Thailand, and Central America, people eat the young leaves, flowers, and young pods in soups [6]. In the Philippine Islands, the young pods are cooked as a vegetable and roasted seeds are used as a substitute for coffee. The young dry seeds are popped like popcorn [6]. In Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Central America people also eat the young leaves, flowers, and young pods as an ingredient for soups and salads. Seeds are being considered as non-conventional sources of protein, together with other leguminous seeds [6]. In addition, it is one of the medicinal plants used to control stomach ache, as contraception and abortifacient.

Phytochemical studies

The phytochemical screening of leaf extract of L. leucocephala revealed the presence of various secondary metabolites as alkaloid, cardiac glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, saponins and Glycosides [3].

Bioactivity studies on this plant revealed its anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-proliferative and antidiabetic activities [8]. The L. leucocephala leaves possess many biological properties such as antimicrobial, anticancer, cancer preventive, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant; antitumor, antihistaminic, nematicide, pesticide, antiandrogenic, hypocholesterolemic and hepatoprotective (table 2) [6].

Table 2: Phytochemical compounds identified from the L. leucocephala leaf extracts and their therapeutic Activity [6]

No Compound Secondary metabolite Therapeutic activity
1 Phytol Diterpene Antimicrobial, anticancer, cancer preventive, diuretic, anti-inflammatory
2 Squalene Triterpene Antibacterial, antioxidant, antitumor; cancer-Preventive, chemopreventive; immunostimulant, lipoxygenase-inhibitor, perfumery, pesticide, sunscreen
3 n-Hexadecanoic acid Palmitic acid Antioxidant, hypocholesterolemic nematicide, pesticide, antiandrogenic, flavor, hemolytic, 5-alpha reductase inhibitor
4 Pentadecanoic acid, 14-methyl-, methyl ester Palmitic acid methyl ester Antioxidant.
5 Hexadecanoic acid, 15-methyl-, methyl ester Fatty acid ester Antioxidant, nematicide, pesticide, flavor, antiandrogenic
6 3,7,11,15-Tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol Terpene alcohol Antimicrobial
7 9,12,15-Octadecatrienoic acid, methyl ester Linolenic acid ester Anti-inflammatory, insectifuge hypocholesterolemic, cancer preventive, nematicide, hepatoprotective, insectifuge, antihistaminic, antieczemic, antiacne, 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, antiandrogenic, antiarthritic, anti-coronary
8 9,12-Octadecadienoic acid, methyl ester Linolenic acid ester Anti-inflammatory, nematicide, insectifuge, hypocholesterolemic, cancer preventive, hepatoprotective, antihistaminic, antiacne, antiarthritic, antieczemic
9 Oxalic acid, allyl hexadecyl ester Dicarboxylic acid Acaricide, antiseptic, CNS-paralytic, fatal, hemostatic, irritant, pesticide, renotoxic, varroacide.

(Modified from Dr. Duke’s: phytochemical and ethnobotanical databases)

L. leucocephala seeds have great medicinal properties and are used to control stomachache, as contraception and abortifacient. The seed gum used as a binder in tablet formulation [6]. A sulfated glycosylated form of polysaccharides from the seeds was reported to possess significant cancer chemo-preventive and antiproliferative activities [1]. The extracts of the seeds have reported as anthelmintic, antidiabetic and have a broad spectrum antibacterial activity [1]. Recently, the seed oil was used in engineering as a novel bio-device useful in biomembrane modelling in lipophilicity determination of drugs and xenobiotics [1]. The plant is reported to be a worm repellent.

Pharmacological activities

Antioxidant activity

L. leucocephala leaf and seed extracts have antioxidant activity [89]. Leaf extracts contain, as a principal constituent, 2-(H)-benzofuranone-5, 6, 7, 7a-tetrahydro-4, 4, 7a-trimethyl [25] and phenolic compounds and flavonoid quercitin was also isolated from the leaves extracts [90].

L. leucocephala seed extracts have antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity is likely due to the phenolic content. An application of this extract should be considered as it can affect renal function by reducing the levels of albumin, ALP and total protein [91].

Antidiabetic activity

L. leucocephala has been reported to possess medicinal properties that control stomach diseases, facilitate abortion and provide contraception, and it is often used as an alternative, complementary treatment for diabetes [25]. Leaf and seed extracts also have antidiabetic activity [90]. An aqueous extract derived from its boiled seeds was taken orally to treat Type-2 diabetes [92].

The seed extract from L. leucocephala inhibits elevated blood glucose and lipids levels but increases the number of pancreatic islets [93]. The active fractions from L. leucocephala seeds have been reported to have antidiabetic activity [94]. Moreover, the seed extract from L. leucocephala exhibits antidiabetic and antioxidant activities and can be used for the treatment of diabetes without affecting hepatic function, but there is an impact on renal function [91]. In Indonesia, an aqueous extract derived from boiling the seeds of L. leucocephala is taken orally to treat type-2 (NIDDM) diabetes and is claimed to be efficacious [95].

Antimicrobial activity

L. leucocephala seed oil extract had a concentration-dependent activity against both Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis) and Gram-negative (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Esherichia coli) bacteria and the lotion formulation with an emulsifying agent had good pharmaceutical properties [96]. The crude extract of L. leucocephala leaves exhibits anti-tubercular activity that supports the use of this plant as mentioned in the folklores [97].


The anti-inflammatory property of chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of leaves of L. leucocephala was reported [6].

Antitumor activity

Hexane, petroleum ether, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of leaves of L. leucocephala showed antitumor activity [6].

Wood uses of L. leucocephala

Its uses have been expanded to gum production, furniture and construction timber, pole wood, and pulpwood [3, 24]


L. leucocephala is one of the miracle timber trees. It has multipurpose uses including beneficial pharmacological properties. Further studies revealed the presence of various secondary metabolites as alkaloid, cardiac glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, saponins and Glycosides. Its seeds have great medicinal properties and used to control stomachache, as contraception and abortifacient. The seed gum used as a binder in tablet formulation and the extracts of the seeds used as anthelmintic, antidiabetic and has a broad spectrum antibacterial activity. To date, no information is available about the pharmacological activities of flower, fruit, bark, wood branch, stem and root of L. leucocephala which need further studies.


Declared none


All the author have contributed equally


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Leucaena leucocephala, Medicinally, Multipurpose, Pharmacological activities, Traditional medicine





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International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Vol 10, Issue 1, 2018 Page: 1-7

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Authors & Affiliations

Mohamed Z. Zayed
Forestry and Wood Technology Department, Faculty of Agriculture (EL-Shatby), Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt.

Sobhy M. A. Sallam
Animal and Fish Production Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Alexandria University, Alexandria, El-Shatby, Egypt.

Nader D. Shetta
Forestry and Wood Technology Department, Faculty of Agriculture (EL-Shatby), Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt

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