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By: James L. Brewbaker, Dept of Horticulture, University of Hawaii
Leucaena leucocephala ("koa haole"-Hawaii; ipil ipil - Phillipines) is a fast-growing, leguminous tree that can be used for reforestation, for firewood, and as a forage crop that can equal alfalfa in nutritional value. There are three basic types of leucaena trees: Hawaiian, Salvador, and Peru. There are also crosses between these. You need to choose the type that best fills your needs. The Hawaiian type is short and bushy. Because its yield of wood and foliage is low compared to the other two types, this would probably be a poor choice. The Salvador type (Hawaiian giant) is tall and tree-like. The trees can grow 60 ft. in height in five years. The best varieties of this type are K8 (Mexico), K28, K67 and K72. K67 is the best variety for projects that need to produce large quantities of seed. The Peru type is tall with extensive branching. The trees are good for forage. Good varieties are K6 and K62. An excellent forage-type leucaena is the Cunningham (K500) which was developed in Australia. It is a cross between the Salvador and Peru types.