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 globue 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.
• Acrid, sweet, bitter, mildly toxic.
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
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.
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.
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.
• Seed Gum / Tablet Binder: (1)
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. (2) 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. (1)
• 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
• 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. (3)
• 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
• 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. (8)
• 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
• 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. (15)
• 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. (16)
• 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. (18)
• 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. (19)
• 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. (21)
• Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity: A 20% aqueous methanol dried leaf extract was evaluated for antioxidant and cytotoxic activity. Fractionation isolated epicatechin-3-O-gallate (1) along with two quercetin glycosides: quercetin-3-O-arabinofuranoside (2) and quercetin-3-O-rhamnoside (3) together with apigenin (4). On DPPH assay, the isolated compounds showed strong antioxidant activity. Compound 1 showed slight toxicity against Vero cells. (22)