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Albizia lebbek (L.) Benth.

East Indian Walnut, Siris Tree, Kokko

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


A fast growings nitrogen-fixing, heavy shade tree, recommended for reforestation and firewood plantations. Often planted as an avenue tree or as shade for coffee and tea. The wood is hard and strong, resembling walnut, and non siliceous. It produces a sawdust that may cause sneezing. Specific gravity 0.61; Air Dry Weight 39 lb/cu ft (ca 630 kg/cu m). The heartwood calorific value is 5,166 cals. Strong and elastic, the wood is used for cabinet wood, furniture and veneer, and serves well as firewood. The burr wood is prized for veneer. Bark has served for tanning. Foliage can be used as fodder. In the Sudan, goats eat fallen leaves and flowers. Bark containing saponin can be used in making soap, and containing tannin, can be used for tanning; used e.g. in Madras to tan fishing nets. It produces a gum which can be sold deceitfully as gum arabic. Host of the lac insect.

Folk Medicine

According to Hartwell (1967–1971), the tree is used in folk remedies for abdominal tumors, in bolmes, enemas, ghees or powders. Reported to be astringent, pectoral, rejuvenant, and tonic, the siris tree is a folk remedy for boils, cough, eye ailments, flu, and lung ailments. The seed oil is used for leprosy, the powdered seed to scrofulous swellings. Indians use the flowers for spermatorrhea.


According to Roskoski et al (1980), studying Mexican material, the seeds contain 9.47% humidity, 3.57% ash, 33.60% crude protein, 3.13% crude fat, 13.17% crude fiber, 35.30% carbohydrates with a 78.25% in vitro digestibility. The pods contain 6.99% humidity, 5.47% ash, 17.86% crude protein, 2.6% crude fat, 45.08% crude fiber, and 22.00% carbohydrates with a 76.56% in vitro digestibility. The foliage contains 3.57% humidity, 7.06% ash, 28.87% crtide protein, 5.42% crude fat, 31.75% crude fiber, 23.33% carbohydrates, and 83.55% in vitro digestibility. Prohibitive levels of toxic compounds were not detected in any of the plant parts analyzed. Gohl (1981) tabulates the following nutritive data:

Nutritive Data On Albizia lebbek (Gohl, 1981)

As % of dry matter
Fresh leaves, India 39.6 18.1 26.5 8.0 4.7 42.7 2.02 0.14
Fresh leaves, Pakistan 31.7 22.0 26.5 7.0 10.0 34.5 1.84 0.20
Pods, Thailand 91.5 21.1 23.0 4.6 4.6 46.7
Digestibility (%)
Leaves Zebu 64.5 62.2 44.6 37.6 1.84
Seeds have yielded 5.3–6.8% fixed oil or fat, the endosperm 11%. The oil contains 9.6% stearic, 10.9% arachidic, 39.3% oleic, and 32.9% linoleic acid (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Bark contains 5–15% tannin (leaves contain ca 4%) and saponins. The saponin from the seed yields oleanolic acid and albizziagenin. Wood workers have reported upper respiratory problems following involvement with this species (Mitchell and Rook, 1979).


Deciduous tree to 30 m tall, with a dense shade-producing crown. Bark smoothish, light whitish or greenish gray. Leaves alternate, twice compound, with 2–4 pairs of pinnate pinnae, each with 4–10 pairs of leaflets, the ultimate leaflets entire, arcuate, oblong. Flowers white, with greenish stamens, in clusters resembling a white powder puff. Pods flat, reddish brown, several seeds, often rattling in the breeze. In Puerto Rico, flowers April to September, fruiting year-round, the fruits more prominent probably in the dry season.


Siris tree, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate alkalinity, some drought, laterite, very light frost, saltspray, and sand (2n = 26).


According to the NAS (1980) this is native to tropical Africa, Asia, and northern Australia, widely planted and naturalized throughout the tropics.


Ranging from Tropical Thorn to Tropical Wet through Subtropical Thorn to Wet Forest Life Zones, siris tree is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 4.8 to 23.4 dm (mean of 17 cases = 14.6) and annual temperature of 23.3 to 26.6°C (mean of 12 cases = 25.5) (EBL computer printout).


Immerse seed in boiling water, cool; soak for 24 hours, sowing in loam in wrapped pots 10 x 15 mm. Move seedlings to partial shade, watering and spraying as needed. Harden off for 2–3 months. Outplant at 3 x 3 or 4 x 4 m when at least 30 cm tall, at beginning of rainy season (Fabian, 1981).


Trees coppice well.

Yields and Economics

Studying Mexican material, Roskoski et al (1980) concluded that there were 8.60 (+/- 3.5) moles N2 fixed per gram of nodule per hour, about 1/3 the hourly rate of Acacia pennatula, whose N2 fixation rate was pegged at 34 kg/ha/yr.


Curtis and Duke (1982) report wood yields of 5 m3/ha/yr, but Webb et al. (1980) report yields of 18–28 m3. Krishnamurti (1974), suggesting the tree as a new alcohol source, notes that the ripe fruit has been found to contain 15% moisture, 17% reducing sugar, and 38% total reducing sugar as glucose. One hundred grams fruit crushed and fermented whole with addition of water and a pure culture of distillery yeast, gave a net yield of 20.5 cc of absolute alcohol, 82% of the theoretical yield, corresponding to about 170 liters alcohol per MT. With fruit yields of 10 MT possible, that suggests a renewable yield of 1,700 liters per hectare, or more than 10 barrels from the fruits alone.

Biotic Factors

Left standing or as logs, the timber is subject to borer and fungal attack (C.S.I.R., 1948–1976). Sapwood is liable to borer and termite attack, but is immune to dry rot (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Browne (1968) lists: Viruses. Albizia Mosaic Virus. Fungi. Ascochyta sacardiana, Camptomeris albizziae, Clitocybe tabescens, Fomes noxius, Fomes robiniae, Ganoderma lucidum, Helminthosporium albiziicolum, Irpex flavus, Nectria ditissima, Phellinus gilvus, Ravenelia sessilis, phaerophragmium acaciae, Uredo ngamboensis. Angiospermae. Cuscuta reflexa, Loranthus sp. (?), Tapinanthus sp. Coleoptera. Amblyrrhinus poricollis, Apate terebrans, Batocera rufomaculata, Bruchidius uberatus, Bruchus pisorum, Caryedon serratus, Trachys bali, Xystrocera globosa. Hemiptera. Drosicha stebbingi, Eurybachys tomentosa, Halys dentatus, Kerria lacca, Oxyrhachis tarandus, Parlatoreopsis chinensis, Parthenolecanium persicae, Rastrococcus iceryoides. Lepidoptera. Eriboea athamas, Hypanartia blanda, Orgyia postica, Pandesma quenavadi, Rhesala imparata, Rhesala moestalis, Sataspes infernalis, Stathmopoda basiplectra. Mammalia. Lepus nigricollis. Nematoda. Meloidogyne javanica, M. sp., Radopholus similes.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update December 19, 1997