How to Grow Leucaena Leucocephala | River Tamarind Care

Leucaena leucocephala is not a common plant but it is surely worth growing. Here are all the details on River Tamarind!

Leucaena leucocephala

Leucaena leucocephala is a fast-growing perennial shrub or small tree native to Central America and Mexico. River Tamarind is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions due to its adaptability and various uses. Let’s have a look at it in detail.

Leucaena Leucocephala Information

The shrub typically grows up to 3-20 meters tall, although it can reach heights of up to 30 meters (100 feet) under ideal conditions. River Tamarind is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae family. It is native to Central America and is widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

Leucaena leucocephala is native to the region of Central America, including Mexico, and parts of northern South America. However, due to its extensive cultivation and introduction, it is now found in many tropical and subtropical regions globally.

River Tamarind is a small to medium-sized deciduous or semi-evergreen tree that can reach a height of 6 to 15 meters (20 to 49 feet). It has a spreading and open crown with a slightly drooping branch structure. The leaves are compound, pinnate, and arranged alternately along the stems. Each leaf has 6 to 26 pairs of leaflets, which are small and oblong in shape, measuring about 1 to 2 centimeters (0.4 to 0.8 inches) long.

River Tamarind  produces fragrant, white or cream-colored flowers in clusters called inflorescences, which are spherical heads about 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches) in diameter. The flowers are followed by long, flattened seed pods that contain numerous seeds.

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How to Grow Leucaena Leucocephala?


To grow Leucaena leucocephala from seeds, you can follow these steps:

  • Collect ripe seed pods from a healthy Leucaena leucocephala tree. The pods should be brown and dry. Remove the seeds from the pods by breaking them open. Separate the seeds from the pod debris.
  • Choose a well-draining pot or seed tray with drainage holes. Fill the container with a seed starting mix or compost and sand. Plant the seeds about 1-2 centimeters deep into the soil. Space the seeds at least 5 centimeters apart. Cover the River Tamarind seeds with soil and gently firm the soil surface.
  • Moisten the soil by gently watering it. Place the container warmly around 25-30°C. Leucaena leucocephala seeds typically germinate within 2-4 weeks, but it may take longer in some cases.
  • Once the River Tamarind seedlings have grown to a suitable size and have developed a few sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into larger pots or directly into the garden.
  • If transplanting to larger pots, use a well-draining potting mix. If transplanting to the garden, choose a sunny location with well-draining soil.
  • As the River Tamarind seedlings grow, provide support to prevent bending or breaking the stems. Prune the seedlings to promote branching and a bushier growth habit.

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Requirements to Grow Leucaena Leucocephala

Leucaena leucocephala 2


Leucaena leucocephala thrives in full sun to partial shade. River Tamarind  prefers at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and development.


It is adaptable to various soil types but prefers well-draining soils. River Tamarind  can tolerate slightly acidic to alkaline soils with a pH range of 6.0-8.0. The soil should be fertile and rich in organic matter.

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When young, Leucaena leucocephala seedlings require regular watering to establish a strong root system. Water the plants deeply, providing enough moisture to penetrate the root zone.

However, providing regular watering during prolonged dry spells is still essential for optimal growth.


Leucaena leucocephala is well-suited to tropical and subtropical climates. River Tamarind prefers average to high temperatures, ranging from 20-35°C.

Leucaena Leucocephala Care


Leucaena leucocephala can fix atmospheric nitrogen through its root nodules, reducing its reliance on nitrogen fertilizers. However, you can supplement the soil with a balanced organic or slow-release fertilizer, once in 2-3 months, for improved growth and overall health during the growing season.


Pruning Leucaena leucocephala promotes a bushier growth habit and increases branching. Regular pruning also helps to maintain the desired size and shape of the tree. Start pruning when River Tamarind is young, removing the tip of the main stem to encourage lateral branching.

Pests and Diseases

Leucaena leucocephala is generally considered a resilient and pest-resistant plant. However, it may occasionally be affected by pests such as aphids, caterpillars, or mites.

Monitor River Tamarind regularly and use appropriate insecticidal treatments if necessary. Regarding diseases, Leucaena leucocephala can be susceptible to root rot if grown in poorly drained soils.

To prevent this, ensure proper soil drainage and avoid overwatering. Proper spacing, good air circulation, and avoiding overhead irrigation can help prevent these diseases.

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