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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium)

Description

G. sepium forms a small to medium-sized, thornless, deciduous, single- or multiple-stemmed tree; 2-15 m and occasionally 20 m tall, and 5-30 cm and occasionally 1 m in stem diameter, with an open rounded crown, often greatly modified by lopping. The bark on young branches is smooth, grey-brown or pale whitish grey with raised pale brown lenticels, becoming fissured on boles. The leaves are alternate or sometimes sub-opposite, pinnate, 15-35 cm long, with slender, yellow-green, finely hairy rachis, an odd terminal leaflet, and 6-24 opposite (except in upper part of rachis) leaflets per leaf. Leaflets are narrowly elliptic to elliptic, rarely broadly elliptic, usually pointed at tips, 4.4-8.3 cm long, 1.7-4.8 cm wide, larger towards tip of the leaf, with characteristic dark purplish tannin patches scattered, especially on lower surface. The flowers are borne on erect, 2-15 cm long racemes arising from leaf axils, or on leafless nodes of older stems with almost synchronous maturation of 30-100 flowers on a single inflorescence. The flowers are typical of Papilionoid legumes, borne on short 5-11 mm long slender pedicels, 2 cm long, with a five-lobed campanulate (bell-shaped) calyx and a typical pea-shaped whitish-pink or purple corolla with five strongly unequal petals. The standard petal is light pink, or pink with a deep yellow basal blotch, and the blade is reflexed at 180° when the flower is fully open. The wing and keel petals are also usually pink. There are 10 whitish stamens, 9 united into a tube and one free. The pods are 10-17 cm long and 1.4-2.2 cm wide, strongly compressed, green sometimes tinged maroon and fleshy unripe, drying mid yellow-brown when ripe, and opening explosively when dry with the pod valves twisting into tight spirals after dehiscence. There are 3-10 lenticular, round or elliptic, yellow-brown, darker orange-brown when mature, seeds per pod, 8.5-11.5 mm in diameter.

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