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Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium)


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Common names 

Gliricidia, Nicaraguan cocoashade, quick stick, Aaron's Rod, Mexican lilac, mother of cocoa, St. Vincent plum, tree of iron [English]; mataratón, mata ratón, madre de cacao, cacahuananche, madriado, madricacao, madriago, madero negro, kakawate [Spanish]; Cacahuanāntli [Nahuatl]; mãe do cacau, planta mãe do cacau [Portuguese]; gamal [Indonesian]; klérésédhé [Javanese]; শারঙ্গ [Bengali]; ശീമക്കൊന്ന [Malayalam]; kakawate [Philippines/Tagalog]; แคฝรั่ง [Thai]; 南洋櫻 [Chinese]


Galedupa pungam Blanco, Gliricidia lambii Fernald, Gliricidia maculata (Kunth) Walp., Gliricidia maculata (Kunth) Walp. var. multijuga Micheli, Lonchocarpus maculatus (Kunth) DC., Lonchocarpus rosea (Mill.) DC., Lonchocarpus sepium (Jacq.) DC., Millettia luzonensis A. Gray, Millettia slendidissima sensu Naves, Robinia maculata Kunth, Robinia rosea Mill., Robinia sepium Jacq., Robinia variegata Schltdl. (USDA, 2009)

Related feed(s) 

Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Kunth ex Walp. is a perennial, medium-sized (2-15 m high) legume tree. It is mostly deciduous during the dry season but is reported to remain evergreen in humid areas. Leaves are imparipinnate; leaflets (5-20) are ovate, 2-7 cm long x 1-3 cm broad. The bright pink to lilac flowers are arranged in clustered racemes. The fruits are dehiscent pods, 10-18 cm long and 2 cm broad, that contain 8 to 10 seeds.

Gliricidia sepium is one of the major tropical forage trees due to its protein-rich forage and high nutritive value. Gliricidia forage can be cut by hand and left on the ground for grazing or carried to paddocks or stalls. It is also possible to make silage from chopped forage, which may be mixed with grasses or maize. Additives, such as molasses, sugar cane or formic acid (0.85%), should be added to provide fermentable carbohydrates (Wiersum et al., 1992).


Gliricidia sepium is native to the seasonally dry Pacific coast of Central America and is now widespread throughout the tropics within 6°S and 19°N of the equator. It grows well from sea level to an altitude of 1600 m, in areas where the mean temperature ranges from 20°C to 29°C, and annual rainfall is between 900 mm and 1500 mm, with a five-month dry period. It does not withstand frost and night temperatures below 15°C. It is tolerant to waterlogging and to a wide range of poorly fertile soils (Ecocrop, 2009).

Forage management 

Gliricidia sepium yields 9 to 16 t/ha of DM in fodder plots, similar to Leucaena leucocephala, but it is less sensitive to pests and to poor growing conditions. It can be lopped around 7 months after establishment on plants grown from cuttings and 14 months after seedling. Thereafter lopping can be done every 2 to 3 months during the rainy season and every 3 to 4 months during the dry season, provided regrowth reaches 1-2 m high before harvest (Wiersum et al., 1992).

Environmental impact 

Gliricidia sepium is a legume able to fix N. It produces a lot of litter and the half-life of gliricidia leaves is about 20 days. The plant is thus considered as a good soil improver. Because of its deep roots and quick growth, it is used as a windbreak. It thrives on steep slopes and may be used to reclaim denuded land. Gliricidia sepium is also often used as shade for perennials (coffee, tea, cocoa) or as nurse-tree since it produces light shade and reduces soil temperatures (Orwa et al., 2009).

Nutritional aspects
Potential constraints 

Gliricidia means "mouse killer" in Latin. In Central America, leaves mixed with cooked maize are used as a rodenticide (FAO, 2009). Leaves are also reported to be toxic to horses (Ecocrop, 2009) and many animals cannot tolerate the consumption of large quantities of gliricidia. Ruminants do not seem to be affected under normal feeding.

Gliricidia toxicity could be due to the conversion by bacteria of coumarin to dicoumerol during fermentation (Cook et al., 2005). Cyanogens, HCN (up to 4 mg/kg), unidentified alkaloids and tannins may be present. Gliricidia can be a nitrate accumulator (Bennison et al., 1993).


If correctly managed, Gliricidia sepium can provide fresh feedstuff to cattle, sheep and goats during periods of scarcity. Its palatability varies from place to place, depending on climatic and soil conditions. This could be due to aromatic antinutritional factors such as flavonol and total phenols (Wiersum et al., 1992).


Familiarisation to Gliricidia sepium is required so that cattle can eat it readily and benefit from its high protein content (Wiersum et al., 1992).

With heifers, gliricida could replace up to 25% of the crude protein of green maize (Rekha Kurup et al., 2004). Supplementation with gliricidia brought forward the onset of puberty and enhanced global animal performance (Gonzalez et al., 2003). Gliricidia seemed palatable to calves grazing it, and resulted in increased dry matter availability and daily weight gain (Simon, 1999). With young cattle (Zamora et al., 1994) and steers (Abdulrazak et al., 1996), supplementation of a basal diet with Gliricidia sepium enhanced dry matter intake and body weight gain.


Feeding Gliricidia to sheep leads to mixed results. Supplementation with Gliricidia sepium of a concentrate/Brachiaria basal diet up to 25% of dietary crude protein resulted in decreases in dry matter intake and body weight gain (Merkel et al., 1999a; Merkel et al., 1999b). Likewise, sheep fed 50% Gliricidia sepium and 50% Pennisetum purpureum had a poor growth response (Grande et al., 2005). Nevertheless, Gliricidia sepium supplementation had positive effects on dry matter intake and digestibility when added to low quality diets in Mexico (Alayon et al., 1998) and Australia (Ahn et al., 1989).

In growing sheep fed on intensive diets, soybean meal can be replaced by gliricidia without altering animal growth (Archimède et al., 2009).


Gliricidia sepium is a good forage for goats (Srinivasulu et al., 1999). Goats prefer the whole foliage (leaves and stems) to the leaves (Keopaseuht et al., 2004), though they find gliricidia less palatable than Leucaena leucocephala (Odeyinka, 2001). Supplementation with Gliricidia sepium of basal diets such as Panicum hay, rice straw, sorghum, rhode grass or natural grass usually had positive results, with increases in daily weight gain, dry matter intake and digestibility of dry matter, organic matter and crude protein (Kenya: Abdulrazak et al., 2006; Vietnam: Nguyen Van Hao et al., 2001; India: Srinivasulu et al., 1999; Indonesia: Ondiek et al., 1999 and Sukanten et al., 1996). Mixing gliricidia with an energy source such as maize bran was also successful (Ondiek et al., 1999; Srinivasulu et al., 1998). Inclusion levels ranged from 30% to 50% of the diet (on a DM basis). The whole foliage is more digestible than the leaves (Keopaseuht et al., 2004).


Gliricidia sepium was added gradually (0, 15%, 30%) to the diets of pigs fed sugarcane molasses: no deleterious effects on animal health were observed but palatability decreased. The diet containing Gliricidia sepium meal was more readily accepted when fed in the early morning (Diaz et al., 2005). Pigs fed on gliricidia may become constipated (Régnier, 2011).


Gliricidia sepium could be included at up to 15% of the diet without deleterious effect on hens and egg production (Ige et al., 2006). Hens fed a mixture of dried leaves of Gliricidia sepium, Cordia dentata and Guazuma ulmifolia with sorghum grain and Crescentia alata seeds showed a higher daily egg production, increased shell thickness and improved yolk colour (Kyvsgaard et al., 1997). In growing chick diets, 10% Gliricidia sepium can be included without affecting animal performances and survival (Cook et al., 2005).


A diet containing 25% Gliricidia sepium, 25% Leucaena leucocephala and 50% cassava peels gave the same growth rate as the control diet (Adejumo, 2006). The same 25% dietary level was shown to be optimal to maintain the quality of rabbit meat (Awonorin et al., 1994). However, feeding male rabbits with 20% gliricidia may decrease semen quality and production (Herbert et al., 2005). In a comparison between gliricidia and leucaena, gliricidia was found to be less palatable but resulted in higher live-weight gains and feed conversion rates (Onwudike, 1995).


Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

Gliricidia leaf meal included at 10% in the diet of tilapia fingerlings gave better growth, feed conversion ratio and survival than the control diet though the results were inferior to those obtained with cassava leaf meal (Nnaji et al., 2010).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 25.3 4.3 19.6 37.0 24
Crude protein % DM 22.3 3.9 15.4 28.8 234
Crude fibre % DM 19.7 2.7 14.4 28.4 27
NDF % DM 49.7 6.4 35.1 60.7 260
ADF % DM 34.8 7.0 22.8 48.2 197
Lignin % DM 13.0 4.5 5.7 22.2 186
Ether extract % DM 4.2 0.7 3.0 5.5 32
Ash % DM 10.0 1.8 6.7 13.7 270
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 19.7 2.3 17.5 21.8 4
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 11.9 2.3 6.2 17.1 125
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.3 0.3 1.6 3.0 137
Potassium g/kg DM 27.1 8.1 12.6 43.0 115
Sodium g/kg DM 0.4 0.5 0.1 1.4 6
Magnesium g/kg DM 4.5 1.0 2.6 7.2 27
Manganese mg/kg DM 79 29 7 109 9
Zinc mg/kg DM 35 13 17 52 10
Copper mg/kg DM 12 6 4 22 10
Iron mg/kg DM 153 70 15 217 9
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 11.0 17.3 0.0 52.8 12
Tannins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 10.9 16.5 0.0 40.7 9
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 75.6 *
OM digestibility, ruminants (gas production) % 81 1
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 73.3 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 14.5 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.5 *
ME ruminants (gas production) MJ/kg DM 9.3 6.8 11.9 2
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 55.1 1.5 53.5 56.5 3
a (N) % 31.2 18.6 11.4 66.8 6
b (N) % 55.8 21.8 21.9 80.1 6
c (N) h-1 0.078 0.022 0.046 0.107 6
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=4%) % 68 *
Nitrogen degradability (effective, k=6%) % 63 13 50 80 6 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Abdulrazak et al., 1996; Abdulrazak et al., 1997; Abdulrazak et al., 2006; Agbede, 2006; Ahn et al., 1989; Ahn JongHo et al., 1997; Ajayi et al., 2005; Alayon et al., 1998; Apori et al., 1998; Ash, 1990; Aumont et al., 1991; Babayemi, 2007; Balogun et al., 1998; Barnes, 1998; Bosman et al., 1995; Camero Rey, 1993; CGIAR, 2009; CIRAD, 1991; Devendra et al., 1970; Evitayani et al., 2004; Falvey, 1982; FUSAGx/CRAW, 2009; Ibrahim et al., 1990; Ifut, 1992; Jayasuriya et al., 1982; Jones et al., 2000; Juma et al., 2006; Kabaija et al., 1988; Kaitho et al., 1997; Kaitho et al., 1998; Keir et al., 1997; Khamseekhiew et al., 2001; Larbi et al., 1998; Larbi et al., 2005; Mahyuddin et al., 1988; Merkel et al., 1999; Mlay et al., 2006; Mpairwe et al., 1998; Nguyen Van Hao et al., 2001; Ondiek et al., 1999; Premaratne et al., 1998; Reddy et al., 2008; Rever et al., 1967; Rubanza et al., 2003; Serra et al., 1996; Smith et al., 1987; Smith et al., 1988; Teguia et al., 1999; Vadiveloo et al., 1992; Viengsavanh Phimphachanhvongsod et al., 2002; Yousuf et al., 2007

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:21

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 6.8 0.6 5.6 8.1 54
Crude fibre % DM 19.7 18.5 21.0 2
NDF % DM 84.5 3.1 75.3 88.7 55
ADF % DM 73.8 5.7 44.7 78.4 52
Lignin % DM 18.3 1.1 15.9 20.5 52
Ether extract % DM 2.7 1.8 3.6 2
Ash % DM 5.0 0.7 3.8 6.7 55
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.2 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 1.6 0.3 1.0 2.2 44
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.0 0.2 0.8 1.4 49
Potassium g/kg DM 19.3 3.1 13.1 24.5 44
Magnesium g/kg DM 1.4 1
Manganese mg/kg DM 40 1
Copper mg/kg DM 7 1
Iron mg/kg DM 61 1
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 0.0 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 75.6 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 73.4 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 13.3 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.0 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


CGIAR, 2009; CIRAD, 1991

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:21

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., 2015. Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/552 Last updated on May 11, 2015, 14:34

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
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