About Bellingen Seedsavers

We are a group of like-minded growers of edible and useful heritage plant varieties in the Bellingen area of northeast New South Wales, Australia.

Our climate varies from frost-free coastal areas to inland river valleys and highlands with frosts. Bellingen has an average annual rainfall of 1507ml.

Friday 2 February 2018

Leucaena leucocephala might be a food we should be growing locally.

This article will be of interest to food growers in our shire.


Caution: This blog does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the published information. Sources regarding edibility often disagree as in the case below.


'“Guaje – Garlic Pumpkin Seeds that are Free Food”

Guaje pronounced Gwah-hee and also known as Leucaena leucocephala is a tree in the acacia family that grows all over the world. It might even be growing in your area, they grow in California, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, South America, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Israel, Philippines, Asia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, India, and Africa. So guaje can be found all over the world and have many health benefits. And guaje seeds are free food!

Guaje Seed Pods

Long Slender Seed Pods – Guaje trees have long slender seed pods that have green or reddish edible seeds inside that are very tasty.

High in Protein – Guaje seeds are high in protein making them very important for those who want a little more protein in their diet. Gujae seed contain from 30% to 60% protein depending on where they grow.

Taste – Guaje tastes like a combination of garlic, pepper, pumpkin seed, avocado, and okra all mixed together, very interesting and lovely flavor. If the seeds are roasted they become very sweet and nutty and even more tasty. And in Mexico the seeds are roasted and salted and eaten as a wonderful snack called “Cacalas”, and they are even used in guacamole and salsa and used in combination with egg dishes for breakfast. And guaje seeds can be used as a substitute for fava and lima beans in lots of different dishes. And in Thailand guaje seeds are a daily part of their dietary regiment.

Using – Normally when the seed pods turn brown the seed pods are opened and the seeds can be eaten raw or roasted.'


 From another source, Eat The Weeds:

Jumbie Bean

Leucaena leucocephala: Food and Fodder

Professor Julia Morton, the grand dame of toxic and edible plants in Florida, had this to say about the Jumbie Bean:

“The plant is toxic to horses, donkeys, mules, and pigs, even to cattle, sheep and goats in quantity. People should not eat any parts raw.” 
Cooked young seeds only

Not exactly encouraging. But she also says: “Young leaves, pods and seeds cooked and eaten, Mature seeds roasted and used as coffee substitute or adulterant.”  Thus we start our review of the Jumbie Bean, the Lead Tree, The White Popinac, the Leucaena leucocephala.

Eat The Weeds


The original article continued:

And the green seed pods can be opened and the seeds roasted and then eaten. And the raw seeds can be popped like popcorn. And in Mexico guaje is a staple food that’s been used for hundred of years.

Contains – Guaje seeds contain 30% protein, calcium and phosphorus for strong bones, some iron for anemia, almost 2% potassium for good heart contractions and water regulation, and magnesium for enzyme production.

Culinary Uses – Guaje can also be roasted and used in casseroles, salads, soups, stews, made into bean cakes, and tempe, it can be added to beef and pork dishes, and just about anything one can think of.

Makes a Wonderful Gluten Free Flour – Guaje makes a wonderful tasting flour that can be used for making cakes, breads, fritters, used with root veggies, with rice, omelets, curries and other dishes.

High in Saponins – Guaje seeds are also high in saponin agents which are powerful antioxidants which help to prevent disease.

Coffee Substitute – Guaje can be roasted and ground like coffee, and then used as a great tasting caffeine free coffee substitute.

Leaves are Edible – Also guaje leaves are tender and edible – just pull off some of the leaves and boil them in water and perhaps add some salt and lemon juice and place them in a tortilla as they do in Mexico and they are delicious.

Used for Making Jewelry – In some areas of the world guaje seeds are used for making great looking jewelry and ornaments.

Used as Livestock Feed – Guaje pods are also used as livestock feed because of their high protein content.

Side Effects – Guaje does contain a small amount of toxin as do many other common foods we eat on a regular basis, but if cooked all of these toxins seem to disappear. And soaking, boiling, fermenting, and other cooking methods eliminate the toxins. But if eaten in moderation these toxins do not accumulate and cause problems for most people. And many people have been eating guaje for hundreds of years… and live to be 100 years old and thrive.

Under Utilized Food – In this day and age with food shortages all around the world, it’s important to find other sources of protein and nutrition which will do the body good. And guaje might be another free food that we’ve over looked and need to look at again and embraced.

Finding – Guaje Seeds and Pods can be found in Asian and Latin Markets. And if you google “Buy Guaje Seeds” lots of places that sell these wonderful seeds will come up.

On the average most people eat about 6 to 8 foods all the time, the same foods every day, and it’s important to broaden our culinary perspective because every food contains different trace minerals, proteins, and healing agents. Thus the more different foods we eat the healthier we become. We live in the garden of eden full of thousands upon thousands of wonderful plants that bring all kinds of great nutrients to our table, and it’s important to take advantage of everything that Mother Earth has to offer.

Dr. Paul Haider – Master Herbalist (www.paulhaider.com)


Note: Leucaena leucocephala can very invasive and requires careful management. 

From: CABI Data Sheet

'In Mexico, L. leucocephala is an important food plant (Casas and Caballero, 1996; reviewed by Hughes, 1998b). Subsp. glabrata is widely cultivated in backyards, gardens and small orchards for the production of edible unripe pods and seeds which are consumed and widely marketed throughout the country. Its unripe pods and seeds are preferred over most other species of Leucaena for food use, due to abundant and virtually year-round production of large pods, the large seed size and its 'sweeter' flavour. L. leucocephala and L. esculenta are the most widely cultivated and marketed species of Leucaena within Mexico. Unripe pods and seeds of Leucaena are also used for food in parts of Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, (National Research Council, 1984; Brewbaker and Hutton, 1979; Manidool, 1983; Pound and Martínez-Cairo, 1983; Brewbaker, 1987; Jones et al., 1992, 1997; Sampet et al., 1995). Food use of Leucaena in Asia has been further adapted to local culinary practices through use of young leafy shoots as vegetables and in soups (Manidool, 1983), young seedling sprouts (roots of 3-day-old seedlings), and preparation of fermented tempe from Leucaena seeds in parts of Java, Indonesia (Jones et al., 1992, 1997).'

From: Weeds of Australia

'Mackay cedar (Paraserianthes toona), forest siris (Albizia procera) and Indian siris (Albizia lebbeck) may occasionally also be confused with leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala), but these species all have much larger leaflets.'

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