Leucaena Leucocephala shrub

Seems to be called ipil-ipil here in the Philippines.

The buds and blossoms and pods can all appear on this tree or shrub at the same time. Here’s a close up of one of the buds and one of the frowsy-headed, Seussian blossoms:

I’m attempting to give a sense of scale here to readers from various cultures and climates. The spherical buds and subsequent blossoms are approximately the size of marbles, acorns, or slightly bigger than blackberries, smaller than lanzones.

Above you can see one of the pods, and the leaves.  What you should be noticing about the leaves is that they are pinnate. That means the leaves are divided roughly like a feather, or the leaves feather out on either side of a dividing stem or vein.   In this plant the leaves are actually bipinnate- that is, twice pennate.  There are two feather leaved divisions- you see pairs of leaf sets up the stem, but then coming out from the stem are other, smaller rows of leaflets on each side, drectly opposite of each other.  The leaves look like ferns.


Leucaena leucocephala
Leucaena leucocephala.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
More about it here, including common names from around the world (because it really does seem to be everywhere) and when it was first noted in each of those countries.  For instance- in the Phillippines it seems to have been seen here since the 1500s, an early interloper indeed.

According to infogalactic and wikipedia, it is a small, fast-growing tree native to southern Mexico and northern Central America (Belize and Guatemala), but is now naturalized throughout the tropics.

It’s been surprising to me how many of the plants I’ve identified in my personal nature study here in the PHilippines turned out to be originally from Mexico, central or South America, but I guess it shouldn’t be.  The Spaniards colonized there and the Philippines, and they must have transplanted many of the plants.  Gardeners did some as well, as did the agricultural departments of several tropical countries. They generally imagined they found a plant that would save local agriculture, and only after importing it discovered how easily it naturalizes and becomes a pest.


Another plant with pinnate leaves here

Jacob’s Ladder, Greek Valerian, or the polemoniums also have the pinnately compound leaf pattern

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.