Family • Mimosaceae - Santa Elena - Leucaena glauca Linn. - LEAD TREE - Yin he huan

Scientific names

Mimosa glauca Linn.
Acacia glauca Wiild..
Leucaena glauca Linn.
Leucaena leucocephala Lam.

Common names

Agho (P. Bis.)
Aghog (P. Bis.)
Ipel (Tag.)
Ipil-ipil (Tag.)
Kabahero (C. Bis.)
Kariskis (Ilk.)
Komkompitis (Ilk.)
Loyloi (S. L. Bis.)
Santa Elena (Span.)
San Pedro (P. Bis.)
Lead tree (Engl.)
Leucaena (Engl.)
Yin he huan (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

AFRIKAANS: Reuse Wattel.
CHAMORRO: Tangan-Tangan, Tangantangan.
CHINESE: Bai he huan.
FIJIAN: Balori, Vaivai, Vaivai Ni Vavalangi.
FRENCH: Faux mimosa, Faux-acacia, Graines de lin, Tamarin batard.
HAWAIIAN: Koa haole.
KOSRAEAN: Rohbohtin, Tuhngantuhngan.
PALAUAN: Telentund.
SAMOAN: Fua Pepe, Lusina.
SPANISH: Guaje, Huaxin, Tamarindo Silvestre, Uaxim, Santa Elena.
TONGAN: Siale Mohemohe.

Ipil-ipil is a small tree growing up 8 meters high. Leaves are compound, 15 to 25 centimeters long, with hairy rachis. Pinnae are 8 to 16, and 5 to 8 centimeters long. Leaflets are 20 to 30, linear oblong, and 7 to 12 millimeters long. Heads are solitary, at the axils of the leaves, long-peduncled, globose, and 2 to 5 centimeters in diameter, with many flowers. Flowers are whitish, in dense globule heads, 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter. Fruit is an oblong or linear pod, strap-shaped, 12 to 18 centimeters long, 1.4 to 2 centimeters wide, papery, green turning to brown and splitting open along two edges when mature, and several fruits developing from each flower head. Each pod contains 15 to 25 elliptic, compressed, shining, brown seeds, each 5 to 8 millimeters long, 3 to 5 millimeters wide.


– In settled areas at low and medium altitudes throughout the Philippines.
– Locally gregarious and abundant.
– Introduced from tropical America.
– Now pantropic.


• Raw seeds yield fat, 8.68%; crude fiber, 22.59%; nitrogen-free material other than fiber, 9.78%; nitrogen, 6.42%; sucrose; water, 14.8%; ash, 4.2%.
• Seed contains the toxic amino acid mimosine.
• Study of whole plant yielded ficaprenol-11 (polyprenol), squalene, lupeol, ß-sitostenone, trans-coumaric acid, cis-coumaric acid pheophytin-a, pheophorbide a methyl ester, methyl-132-hydroxy-(132-S)- pheophorbide-b and aristo- phyll-C.
• Leaves and seeds contain lipids, crude protein and carbohydrates. Seeds contain tannin and oxalic acid. Kernel contains oil, 17-20%. Leaves and seeds yield a toxic and non protein substance called mimosine.
• Study for secondary metabolites yielded 14 compounds including four steroids, triterpenoid, and two benzenoids.
• Whole plant yielded polyprenol, squalne, lupeol, ß-sitostenone, trans-coumaric acid, cis-coumaric acid, polyphytin-a, pheophorbide a methyl ester, methyl-13-S)-pheophorbide-b, and aristophyll -C.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Inhibition of Growth of Hair by Mimosine / R G Crounse, J D Maxwell and H Blank / Nature 194, 694 – 695 (19 May 1962); doi:10.1038/194694b0

(2) Andre Gerard van Veen / Mimosine-iron complexes /

(3) Bioactivity studies on the alkaloid extracts from seeds of Leucaena leucocephala / Irene Villasenor et al / Phytotherapy Research, Vol 11 Issue 8, Pages 615 – 617 / DOI

(4) Preliminary evaluation of Leucaena leucocephala seed gum as a tablet binder./ Deodhar UP et al / Summary Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy, 1998, Vol. 24, No. 6, Pages 577-582 / DOI 10.3109/03639049809085662

(5) Studies on disintegrant action of Leucaena leucocephala seed gum in ibuprofen tablet and its mechanism/ P R P Verma and Balkishen Razdan / Dept of Pharm Sciences • Birla Inst of Tech, Mesra, Ranchi

(6) Comparative Nematocidal Activity of Chromatographic Fractions of Leucaena leucocephala. Seed Against Gastrointestinal Sheep Nematodes / I O Ademola et al / Summary Pharmaceutical Biology • 2005, Vol. 43, No. 7, Pages 599-604

(7) Reproductive indices of Merino rams fed sun-cured Leucaena leucocephala forage / I V Nsahlai et al / South African Journal of Animal Science 2000, 30 (Supplement 1)

(8) Antiproliferative and cancer-chemopreventive properties of sulfated glycosylated extract derived from Leucaena leucocephala / amira M Gamal-Eldeen et al / Indian J Pharm Sci 2007;69:805-11 / DOI: 10.4103/0250-474X.39438

(9) Yin he huan / Joe Hing Kwok Chu / Complementary and Alternative Healing University

(10) Sustain-Release of Various Drugs from Leucaena Leucocephala Polysaccharide / S Jeevanandham, M Sekar, D Dhachinamoorthi et al / J Young Pharm. 2010 Jan-Mar; 2(1): 15–20. / doi: 10.4103/0975-1483.62207

(11) REACTION OF RATS FED ON LEUCAENA LEUCOCEPHALA / B A El-Harith, Y Schart and U ter Meulen / Trop Anim Prod 1979 4:2

(12) ANTIMICROBIAL AND PHARMACEUTICAL PROPERTIES OF THE SEED OIL OF LEUCAENA LEUCOCEPHALA (LAM.) DE WIT (LEGUMINOSAE) / Segun A Aderibigbe, Oladapo A Adetunji, Michael Ayodele Odeniyi / African Journal of Biomedical Research, Vol 14, No 1 (2011)

(13) Chemical composition of Leucaena leucocephala seeds / Poonam Sethi and Pushpa R. Kulkarni / International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 1994, Vol 45, No 1, pp 5-13.

(14) Antioxidant activity and cytotoxicity study of Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de wit leaf extract constituents/ M.A Aderogba, L.J McGaw, B.T Bezabih, B.M Abegaz / Nigerian Journal of Natural Products and Medicine, ISSN: 1118-6267

(15) STUDIES ON SOME PHYSICOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF LEUCAENA LEUCOCEPHALA BARK GUM / Vijetha Pendyala,* Chandu Baburao, and K.B Chandrasekhar / J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2010 Apr-Jun; 1(2): 253–259.

(16) The Effects of the Seeds of Leucaena Glauca on the Hair Follicles of the Mouse / W Montagna PhD and J S Yun MS / The Journal of Investigative Dermatology (1963) 40, 325–332; doi:10.1038/jid.1963.156

(17) Leucaena leucocephala Fruit Aqueous Extract Stimulates Adipogenesis, Lipolysis, and Glucose Uptake in Primary Rat Adipocytes / Umah Rani Kuppusamy, Bavani Arumugam, Nooriza Azaman, and Chai Jen Wai / The Scientific World Journal, Volume 2014 (2014) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/737263


(19) Assessment of total phenolic content and free radical-scavenging capacity of Leucaena leucocephala extract / Dorothy Sarim / Institutional Repository UMS-University of Malaysia Sabah

(20) Nutritive Value and Potential Uses of Leucaena Leucocephala as Biofuel – A Mini Review / Meena Devi VN*, Ariharan VN and Nagendra Prasad P / Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences, Vol 4, No 1, Jan-March 2013

(21) Secondary metabolites from Leucaena leucocephala / Chen, C. Y.; Wang, Y. D. / Chemistry of Natural Compounds, Mar2011, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p145

(22) The Effects of the Seeds of Leucaena Glauca on the Hair Follicles of the Mouse / W Montagna PhD and J S Yun MS / The Journal of Investigative Dermatology (1963) 40, 325–332; doi:10.1038/jid.1963.156

(23) Polyprenol from the Whole Plants of Leucaena leucocephala / Chung-Yi Chen*, Yau-Der Wang / Journal of Environmental Protection, 2010, 1, 70-72 / doi:10.4236/jep.2010.11009

(24) The effects of Leucaena leucocephala on semen quality, fertility and reproductive performance of dihydroxy pyridone-adapted South African Nguni goats / A. A. AKINGBADE a1, I. V. NSAHLAI and C. D. MORRIS /
The Journal of Agricultural Science / Volume 139 / Issue 02 / September 2002, pp 205-211 /
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S002185960200240X

(25) Phytoremediation Studies on Coal Mine Waste and Coal Fly Ash by Leucaena Leucocephala / Satpal Singh Bisht, Rojita Mishra, B. Praveen, Amrita Kumari Panda, Koustava K. Panda, and Ajit Routray / International Journal of Bioscience, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics, Vol. 1, No. 4, November 2011

(26) Evaluation of Leucaena leucocephala leaf meal as a protein source for growing-finishing pigs / Zakayo, Griffin A. / 1998 / Thesis / Curtin University

• Acrid, sweet, bitter, mildly toxic.
• Extract of seed has been reported to possess chemopreventive, anti-proliferative, antihelmintic, antidiabetic, and antibacterial properties.

Parts utilized
Dried seeds.

In some provinces, seeds occasionally used as a coffee substitute.
– In the Philippines, not much utilized as a medicinal plant.
– Roasted seeds used as emollient.
– Used for Intestinal parasitism: ascaris and trichinosis.
– Roots in decoction used as emmenagogue.
– Decoction of bark and roots is a powerful emmenagogue. In the West Indies, used as abortifacient.
– In China, seeds are eaten to rid of round worms.
– In Latin American, root and bark taken as contraceptive and depilatory. In Mexico, used for diabetes. InIndonesia, aqueous extract from boiled seeds used for diabetes.

Leaves: Leaves are high in protein and can be used as feed supplement.
Wood: In the Philippines, popular use as firewood and reforestation work. Also, used for carving.
Cover crop: Also much used as a cover crop and exterminator of kogon.
Dye: Produces a brown dye.
Seeds: Occasionally used as coffee substitute; also for decorating bags.
Forage: Highly nutritious forage tree.
Seed Gum: Used as binder in tablet formulation.
Pulp: Used in paper and rayon industries.

Veterinary concerns
• Leaves reported to be injurious to horses and young cattle who feed on it, causing falling hair from the manes and tails. Goats do not seem to be affected. The effect is attributed to the glucoside mimosine in leaves and seeds.
• Feeding the leaves to breeding animals may also affect reproduction. In poultry, it may cause decrease in production and delay in the birds reaching sexual maturity.

Study Findings
• Seed Gum / Tablet Binder: R&D on seed gum for a pharmaceutical substitute for the imported guar gum used as a binder in tablet formulation. In 1996, ipil-ipil was found to be an excellent liquid excipient as a suspending and thickening agent. The seed galactomannan of L leucocephala, with properties similar to guar gum was evaluated as a pharmaceutical binder and compared with standard pharmaceutical binders regarding properties of compressibility, micromeritic and mechanical properties.
• Inhibition of Growth of Hair by Mimosine: Loss of hair been reported in animals following ingesting of seeds and foliage and in women after consumption of LG seeds. The toxic principle is leucenol, an amino-acid (identical to the mimosine of Mimosa pudica) found primarily in the seeds of ipil-ipil, and in lesser amounts in foliage and stems.
• Mimosine-Iron Complexes: Study by Andre Gerard van Veen studied the properties of the seed’s amino acid mimosine, a pyridoxine derivative, associated with hair follicle toxicity in the anagen phase of growth. He noted that the outbreaks of alopecia occurred only when the plant consumed was prepared in clay pots. In iron pots, no alopecia occurred, explained by the formation of mimosine-iron complexes that reduced the absorption of mimosine.
• Mimosine Enhancement of sensitivity of hepatoma and lung cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs:Mimosine inhibited the proliferation of liver and lung cancer cells and blocked cell cycle progression from G1 to S phases. There was reduction of formation of colony of cancer cells. Mimosine may act via inhibition of cyclin D1 synthesis. Long-term treatment of mimosine induced apoptosis in liver and lung cancer cells. Results conclude mimosine is a potent anti-cancer agent and can enhance the cytocidal effect of chemotherapeutic drugs.
• Anti-Cancer / Mimosine: Mimosine, a plant specific amino acid extracted from the seeds of Lg, inhibited the proliferation of human hepatoma and lung cancer cells by suppression of cyclin D1, activating cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor and inducing apoptosis of cancer cells.
• Anti-Cancer / Mimosine / Additive Cytocidal Effect: Mimosine showed an additive cytocidal effect in combination with chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin in vivo.
• Anti-Cancer / Antiproliferative: Study extract polysaccharides from the seeds of L leucocephala, sulfated to a sulfated glycosylated form. Results showed the sulfated glycosylated form possessed significant anti-proliferative activity against different cell lines. It induced HepG2 cell death by necrosis, but not apoptosis. Study concludes the chemical modification of leucaena gum induced its cancer chemopreventive and anti-proliferative activities.
• Bioactivity Study / Central Nervous System Depressant: Study of chloroform soluble and ethyl acetate soluble alkaloidal extracts from the seeds of Leucaena leucocephala showed central nervous system depressant activity evidenced by a decrease in respiratory rate and depth and a decrease in motor activity.
.• Disintegrant Action: L leucocephala seed gum was evaluated for disintegrant action in lactose-based tablets containing ibuprofen, a relatively insoluble drug. Study showed the seed gum swells rapidly when brought in contact with water, generating enough pressure to cause disintegration action.
• Anthelmintic Effect: Study of seed extracts showed the most active fraction to contain polar polyphenols, providing scientific justification for the use of the aqueous extract in traditional practice and application in anthelmintic therapy in veterinary practice.
• Polyprenols: Study isolated from the whole plant of L leucocephala: ficapreol-11 (polyprenol), squalene and lupeol, isolated fro the first time from the species, plus 9 other known compounds.
• Hypoglycemic: Study in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats showed the extract of LL seed acts as a hypoglycemic agent by selective regeneration of beta-cells of STZ-damaged pancreas while also protecting the beta-cells from the necrotic effect of STZ.
• Seed Polysaccharide / Drug Delivery: Seed polysaccharide can be used for controlled release of both water-soluble and water-insoluble types of drugs. The extent of release can be varied by controlling degree of cross-linking.
• Iron in Mimosine Toxicity: Growing rats consuming diets with 25% L. leucocephala suffered mild alopecia, cataracts, reversible paralysis, severe growth retardation and mortality. Addition of Ferrous sulphate (2%) protected the animals from toxic symptoms.
• Antidiabetic: Study of active fractions of L. leucocephala seeds on alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed antidiabetic activities, with bioactive compounds indicating glycoside compounds with galactose monosaccharide clusters and other saccharides.
• Seed Oil / Antimicrobial: L. leucocephala seed oil extract showed concentration-dependent activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The lotion formulation had good pharmaceutical properties.
• Seed Composition and Activities: Study on two varieties of L. leucocephala whole seeds and seed fraction revealed that the seed kernel portion is primarily the potential source of protein. Seeds exhibited urease activity, amylase activity, saponins, and hemagglutinins; while trypsin inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, and cyanogenetic glycosides were absent.
• Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity: A 20% aqueous methanol dried leaf extract was evaluated for antioxidant and cytotoxic activity. Fractionation isolated epicatechin-3-O-gallate along with two quercetin glycosides: quercetin-3-O-arabinofuranoside and quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside together with apigenin. On DPPH assay, the isolated compounds showed strong antioxidant activity. Compound 1 showed slight toxicity against Vero cells.
• Bark Gum Potential: Leucaena leucocephala bark gum showed a swelling ability that may provide potential for its use as a disintegrant in tablet formulation, as a hydro gel in modified release dosage forms, and because of its rheological flow properties, as a suspending and emulsifying agent.
• Effect of Seeds on Hair Follicles of Mice / Leucaenine: Seeds of Leucaena glauca contain a biologically active agent which inhibits hair growth. Study favors the hypothesis of Farinas and Shostak that leucaenine inhibits mitosis in the hair follicles, especially in the matrix, with effects similar to those obtained with X-irradiation and chemical agents. Leucaenine seems to be a mitotic inhibitor, and may have damaging effects upon keratinization, but with not effect upon melanogenesis.
• Stimulation of Adipogenesis, Lipolysis and Glucose Uptake / Fruit : Study evaluated the in vitro “insulin-like” activities of L. leucocephala aqueous fruit extract on lipid and glucose metabolisms using primary rat adipocytes. Results showed the aqueous fruit extract was able to activate adipogenesis and glucose uptake in rat primary adipocytes efficiently, also exerting a lipolytic effect on fully differentiated adipocytes. Results suggest use in the management of type 2 diabetes.
• Nematicidal: Study showed leaf and root extracts of L. leucocephala and G. sepium could be useful in root knot nematode management in vegetable beds.
• Phenolic Content / Free Radical Scavenging: Various extracts of different parts of Leucana leucocephala (leaf, stem, and seed) were assessed for total phenolic content and antioxidant activities. The aqueous extract of seed showed the highest total phenolic content. All different parts of L. leucocephala can act as radical scavenger, the highest scavenging effect was found in the aqueous extract of seed.
• Biofuel Potential / Corrosion Inhibitor: Leucocephala seed oil is used as biofuel inn diesel engines. Kernel contains 15-20% fatty acid. Oil extracted from the kernel is used as biofuel, and can directly blend with fossil fuel at maximum of 20%. Fatty acid has potential for inhibiting bio-corrosion of mild steel and copper alloys.
• Inhibition of Hair Growth: The inhibition of hair growth with L. glauca seeds and leaves is attributed to the amino acid “leucaenol” or leuca-inine. The ingestion of isolated leucaenine by rats and mice is said to have the same effect as whole seeds. Leucaenine seems to be a mitotic inhibitor, and may have damaging effects upon keratinization, while having no effects on melanogenesis.
• Effect of Semen Quality and Fertility: Study evaluated the effects of feeding Leucaena leucocephala on semen quality and fertility on mature male goats. Semen quality on LL treatment significantly increased (P=0.004) between days 0 and 77, and probably explains the significant difference between fertility rates of bucks.
• Phytoremediation / of Semen Quality and Fertility: Phytoremedial studies on coal mine wastes and coal by Leucaena leucocephala suggests the plantation of LL is one of the best options for phytoremediation of coal mine wastes.
• Leaf Meal as Protein Source: Findings suggest the water soaking or treatment with FeS04 solution reduces the antinutritional factors (including mimosine) and improves the nutritional quality of LLM containing diets for pigs.