Animal feed resources information system

Poro (Erythrina poeppigiana)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Poro, coraltree, immortelle tree, mountain immortelle [English]; bois immortel, erythrine bucare, immortelle jaune [French]; eritrina-do-alto, sinã [Portuguese]; poró, madre del cacao, amapola, amapola de sombre, amasisa, barbatusco, brucayo, bucare ceibo, bucayo, bucaro, bucayo gigante, cachingo, cámbulo, ceibo, písamo, poró extranjero, poró gigante, saibo [Spanish]; dadap [Bahasa indonesia]; chuku yura [Kichwa]


Erythrina micropteryx Poepp., Micropteryx poeppigiana Walp.

Feed categories 
Related feed(s) 

Poro (Erythrina poeppigiana) is a tropical evergreen tree with conspicuous orange-red flowers. Poro is mainly used as a shade tree in coffee and cocoa plantations (hence the spanish name "Madre de cacao") where trees are usually kept pruned to 2-3 m. Poro foliage can be a valuable source of fodder for livestock.


Poro is an evergreen or partially deciduous, conspicuous tropical tree that can reach 25-35 m in height. It has a spreading crown arising from a branchless bole, 1.2-2m in diameter (Orwa et al., 2009; Cook et al., 2005; Oyen, 1997; Duke, 1983). The tree can be multi-stemmed and, under cultivation is kept small to 2-2.5 m in height by cutting the stems (Oyen, 1997). The bark of poro is smooth or slightly furrowed, greenish brown to greyish-brown in colour, equipped with conical thorns on the branches and young twigs (Cook et al., 2005; Oyen, 1997). Poro (Erythrina poeppigiana) leaves are alternate, borne on pubescent petiole, 10-40 cm long (including petiole) and trifoliate, thin-papery, often scabrous beneath. The 3 leaflets are rhomboid-oval or oval in shape, the lateral ones have cup-shaped glands at their base, the terminal leaflet is 8-30 cm long x 5-30 cm broad (Oyen, 1997; Duke, 1983). Leaflets are generally larger in saplings than in big trees (Cook et al., 2005). The inflorescence is a 10-40 cm long raceme held at the distal end of shoots on 4-8 cm long peduncles. The racemes bear conspicuous red-orange, caducous, pentamerous flowers. The pods are many-seeded, 12-25 cm long, cylindrical, long-stalked, slightly curved and depressed between seeds, pointed at both ends, green in colour . The seeds are 1-2 cm long, slightly curved, , brown in colour (Orwa et al., 2009; Cook et al., 2005; Oyen, 1997. 4500 seeds/kg (Cook et al., 2005).

The latin name of the genus "Erythrina" comes from the Greek word "eruthros" : red characteristical colour of the showy flowers of the genus.


Poro (Erythrina poeppigiana) is an invaluable shade tree and for this reason, has been widely used in coffee, pepper and cocoa plantations (hence the spanish name "madre del cacao" (mother of cocoa)). In plantations, it is often planted in combination with the agroforestry tree Cordia alliodora (Oyen, 1997). Poro can also shade pastures (Oyen, 1997). Poro (Erythrina poeppigiana) foliage has been reported to be used as fodder for ruminants (Cook et al., 2005). The flowers are edible and used in Colombia, to make soups and salads (Duke, 1983). Stem cuttings readily roots and can thus be used to make fence posts which can be lopped for green manure or for fodder (Cook et al., 2005; Oyen, 1997; Duke, 1983). Poro is a N-fixing tree that can be planted in alley cropping systems as hedgerow species. It is also a showy tree that is planted for ornament in gardens and along roads and avenues (Oyen, 1997). Poro seeds are known to produce fish poison. The wood has poor fuel value but could be used to make paper or particle boards (Oyen, 1997).


Poro original range is from Panama and Venezuela in the North to the western parts of the Bolivian and Peruvian Amazon in the South. It has been extensively planted and naturalized in Central America and the Caribbean. It has been reported to be invasive in Cuba.It was also introduced into the humid tropics of the Old World, noticeably South-East Asia (Fern, 2014; Oyen, 1997).

Poro occurs in humid and subhumid tropical lowlands that are not prone to flooding from sea level up to 2000 m altitude. At higher altitude the tree survives but remain stunted and are blanketed with epiphytes (Oyen, 1997).

Poro does better in places where average annual temperatures are between 22 and 24°C and where annual rainfall ranges from 1000-4000 mm but it still grows in places where extremum temperatures are ranging from 16°C to 36°C and rainfall is 800 mm to 4500 mm with tolerance of temporary waterlogging. It can be used to drain very wet soils and can also withstand up to 6 months of reduced rainfall (Fern, 2014; Cook et al., 2005; Oyen, 1997). Leaf-fall occurs during the dry season and top growth of poro is killed by frost (Cook et al., 2005). Poro can be cultivated on a wide range of soils ranging from sandy rocky soils to deep heavy clays that includes poor and acid-infertile soils with pH 4.3 and poorly drained soils. It however does better at a pH ranginf from 5 to 7 and does not tolerate salinity (Cook et al., 2005).

Poro is a full sunlight species that can however withstand light shade (Cook et al., 2005). Poro was reported to be resistant to fire, including controlled burning (Oyen, 1997)

Forage management 


Intolerant of severe, regular pruning (Cook et al., 2005).  For highest production, defoliate a maximum of twice a year leaving 10-25% of leaf area intact to facilitate regrowth (Cook et al., 2005).  Survives complete pruning twice a year but will be killed by more frequent pruning (Cook et al., 2005).  Complete mortality of N-fixing nodules occurs with heavy defoliation and re-establishment of nodules does not occur until 6 weeks after pruning.
There is anecdotal evidence from CATIE, Costa Rica that 
E. poeppigiana can tolerate direct grazing over a 12-month period (Cook et al., 2005).

Environmental impact 

Green manure and mulch producer, N fertilizer

Thanks to its tolerance of coppicing and its N-fixing habit, poro provides high amount of green manure and mulch with high N value to the soil (Oyen, 1997). Poro was shown to improve soil mineralization rate (5.64 mg N/kg soil) in coffee plantations. It was suggested that the use of poro in coffee platation could bring 100 kg N/ha with a variation from 55 to 556 kg/ha (Villareyna Acuña et al., 2016).

Agroforestry species

Poro has many traits that make it a valuable agroforestry species. A thorny species, it can be planted as a living fence useful to keep livestock off the stand. It can however be sensitive to strong winds and be uprooted (Oyen, 1997).

In alley cropping systems and in plantations, it provides light shade. Once coppiced, its N-rich leaves produce high grade litter for the soil and its root nodules return high amount of N to the neighbouring crops (cocoa, pepper, or grasses) (Fern, 2014; Oyen, 1997).

In alley cropping systems, poro planted in dense hedgerows (1 - 2 metres between trees), with wide alleys (6 - 8 metres) between tree rows can sustain high bean yield (Fern, 2014).  In Costa Rica, the use of poro with 2 maize crops per year was possible over 8 years without fertilization  [303] (Fern, 2014).

Nutritional aspects

It has been used in diets for cattle, sheep and goats in Colombia and proved a useful protein supplement.

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 
Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/608 Last updated on June 7, 2019, 11:30