The name "gliricidia" derives from the Lain 'glis' (dormouse) and caedere (to kill). The Spanish name "mata-raton" refers to the tree's rodenticial properties.
As the tree pods hang-dry in the sun, they curl and explode, making a popping cracking sound. A cluster of trees with their pods snapping and popping and falling to the ground, in unison, make a fascinating afternoon of nature's concoction of sound.
The tree is common
in the southern Tagalog areas, shedding leaves around December and flowering February and March. In some areas, the blooming of its pink flowers is so profuse to deserve a comparison with the cherry blossoms.
Kakawati is a smooth, deciduous
tree, 3 to 10 meters high. Leaves are 15 to 25 centimeters long with 13 leaflets which are opposite, oblong-ovate, 4 to 6 centimeters long, with a pointed
tip and rounded base. Racemes are numerous on leafless branches, containing many flowers. Flowers are pink, 2 centimeters long, with a truncate calyx. The standard is reflexed and pale-yellow in the median part. The pods are narrowly oblong to oblanceolate, 10 to 14 centimeters long,
about 2 centimeters wide, containing 6 to 8 seeds.
- Thoroughly naturalized throughout the Philippines in settled areas at low and medium altitudes.
- Planted as an ornamental flowering tree for its beautiful pink flowers.
- Introduced by the Spaniards from Mexico.
• Phytochemical studies have yielded a formosin (an isoflavan, reportedly with anti-tumor capacity), formononetin, gliricidin-6a-gliricidol-9a, medicarpin (pterocarpan), 7,4'-dihydroxy-3'-methoxyisoflavin, 2'O-methylsepiol, tannin, and a trihydroxyflavone.
• Heartwood yielded a stigmastanol glucoside and 3'4-dihydroxy-trans-cinnamic acid octacosylester 2 along with three other known constituents.
• Study yielded two new triterpene saponins (1 and 2), possessing 3beta, 21beta, 24--trihydroxy-22-oxoolean-12-ene as aglycon, together with known aromatic compounds. (11)
• Study of bark oil by GC-MS analysis yielded 19 compounds. The major components were methyl‐3(E)‐pentenyl ether (11.55%), 3‐methyl‐2‐butanol (10.65%), 3‐methoxy hexane (10.14%), 1‐(1‐ethoxyethoxy)‐2‐hexene (9.72%), 2‐ decanol (8.97%), coumarin (8.07%) and hexadecanoic acid (5.16%). (see study below) (17)
• Proximate chemical composition of leaves yielded of bark oil by GC-MS yielded (g/100g DM) 34.5 dry matter, 20.69 crude protein, 23.08 crude fiber, 4.95 ether extract, 7.69 ash, 43.59 nitrogen-free extract, 92.31 organic matter, 48.18 total digestible N, 0.95 Ca, 0.30 P, 0.03 Na, 0.46 Mg, 3.36 K, 21.0 (ppm) Zn, 300 (ppm) Fe, 80 (ppm) Mn, 5 (ppm) Cu, and 4.35 (kcal/g) gross energy. (18)
• Tannins are considered potentially antidiarrheal, antidysenteric,
antimutagenic, antioxidant, bactericidal, hepatoprotective, pesticidal
• Studies have suggested antimicrobial, anti-scabies, nematicidal, insecticidal, antiviral, acaricidal properties.
Leaves, bark, roots.
- Dermatitis, skin itching:
Apply juice or decoction of leaves, bark or roots on the skin as antipruritic.
- Fresh leaves applied to the skin as insect repellent.
- As counterirritant: Crush leaves and apply as poultice for rheumatic
pains, sprains and closed fractures.
- Sap of bark, leaves and roots have been used for wound healing.
- Treatment of scabies.
- In Guatemala, the bark and leaves are used
to treat skin diseases.
- In Guatemala and Costa Rica, bark decoction is used against bacterial and protozoal infections.
- In many folkloric regimens of other countries, used for headache, bruises,
burns, colds, cough, fever, fatigue, gangrene, gonorrhea, skin itches
and sores; as antidote, insecticide, insect repellent.
- In Panama, decoction of leaves used in urticaria, rash, burns, and erysipelas.
- Wood: Wood is hard and durable
used for small housing needs, posts, implement handles and firewood.
In the Tagalog areas, popularly used as a living fence or live stakes to support plantings.
- Fleas and ticks: Leaves have a fetid smell; crushed, used to rid dogs of fleas and ticks
and cattle, of ticks.
- Rodent poison: Plant used as rodent poison.
- The juice from leaves is applied to daily for one week to areas affected
by external parasites,
- Insecticidal, Antifungal, Antiviral: There is some evidence to suggest G. sepium can protect some crops from fungal, insect or viral attack directly or by acting as a diversionary host plant for pets. Studies have also suggested G. sepium mulch has a fungicidal effect. It has been used to control termite damage in Sri Lanka and stem-borer damage to rice in the Philippines. In India, the tree was found to have a positive effect on the transmission of aphids (Aphis craccivora) causing rosette disease in groundnuts. (17)
- Insect repellent: In Latin American, used
by farmers to repel insects. Leaves are ground up, mixed with water,
and the resulting paste use to bathe animals, and repeated every 7 to
14 days, decreasing the infections from tropical warble fly.
- Fodder: Gliricidia sepium has a high nutrient content and great potential for animal feeding.
Crude extract of Gliricidium sepium
showed potential antipseudomonas drug potential with an in vitro study
showing a minimum inhibitory concentration at 1%. (1)
• Anti-Scabies:The study concluded that the "kakawati"
preparation is as effective as sulfur lotion in the treatment of scabies. (2)
Study of 10 medicinal plants in Colombian folk medicine, including G
sepium, was done screening for antimicrobial activity. The ethanol extracts
were all active against S aureus except for J secunda. (4)
• Antimicrobial:A possible alternative in the treatment of non-nosocomial infections:
G. sepium was one of ten medicinal plants screened for antimicrobial
activity, all of which were found effective against three or more pathogenic
microorganisms, corroborating their use in folkloric medicine.
yielded three new hederagenin-based acetylated saponins from the fruits
of Gliricidia sepium. (6)
/ Nematicidal / Antibacterial: Study
showed nematicidal activity against Meloidogyne incognita nematode with
60% mortality; mosquito repellent activity against Aedes aegypti with
maximum 78% repellency; and antibacterial activity against E. coli,
S aureus, Pseudomonas spp, S typhi and Klebsiella spp with best results
against E Coli. (7)
• Antimicrobial / Bark:
on the antimicrobial activity on the bark of five tree species showed
G sepium to have antimicrobial effects against S epidermis, S aureus,
P aeruginosa, B pumillus and V cholerae. (8)
• Anti-Scabies: In a study of scabies treatment among selected residents of Titay, Zamboanga, results showed a significant difference between pre-treatment and post-treatment scores after one week. However, there was a noted increase of scabies lesions 2 and 4 weeks after. (10)
• Antibacterial / Antifungal: Study investigated an ethanolic extract of Gliricidia sepium for antimicrobial activity against gram-positive, gram-negative bacteria, and fungi. Maximum inhibitory activity was between 0.5 and 1 mg ml-1 against bacteria and 2.5 mg ml-1 against fungi (Fusarium solni, Rhizomucor pusillus, Trichophyton sclerosis, Macrophomnia phaseolina and Rhizoctonia solani). (12)
• Antibacterial / Bark, Flower and Leaf: Study investigated various extracts of bark, flower, and leaf for antibacterial activities against various pathogenic bacteria. Results showed various extracts of flower, bark, and leaves can be used as potential external antiseptic and incorporated into drug formulations. (13)
• Dry Season Feed for Goat Production: Study evaluated the nutritional value of dried G. sepium leaves both fed alone and supplemented with cassava peel in West African dwarf goats. Leaves contained 3.3%N and are available throughout the year. Dried leaves stored throughout the dry season showed no deterioration and can serve as feed reserve. (15)
• Acaricidal / Spider mite / Tetranychus cinnabarinus (Boisduval): The carmine spider mite is an important pest of various economically important crops. Ethanolic extracts showed acaricidal effects and show promise in the management of T. cinnabarinus. (16)
• Antibacterial / Volatile Oil / Bark: The antibacterial activity of essential oil from bark of G. sepium checked against various pathogenic bacteria showed pronounced activity against all tested microorganisms (B. cereus, E. faecalis, S. paratyphi, S. aureus, E. coli, S. faecalis, P. vulgaris, K. pneumonia, P. aeruginosa and S. marcescens). Results suggest a potential use as an external antiseptic. (see constituents above) (17)
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antioxidant property of Gliricidia sepium by DPPH radical scavenging assay, NO scavenging assay, super oxide radical scavenging assay and ferrous chelation assay. The plant yielded considerable amount of saponin, phenol, alkaloids, and flavonoids and showed free radical scavenging reducing power and natural chelating property. (19)
• Larvicidal / Mosquito / Leaves: Study evaluated the effectiveness of Madre de Cacao leaf extract as a larvicide for household mosquitoes (Culex pipiens). Results suggest the leaf extract has potential as a natural mosquito larvicide and an alternative substitute to commercial mosquito pesticide. (20)
• Rodenticidal Mechanism / Coumarins / Leaves: A study reported in 1966 evaluated the mechanism by which G. sepium exerts its rodenticidal properties. Leaf extraction yielded the presence of coumarin as a constituent of the phenolic fraction. Study suggests the bacterial conversion of coumarin into the hemorrhagic agent dicoumerol, and the pathologic evidence in rats fed on incubated leaves point to coumarin as the basis for rodenticidal property of the plant. (21)
for scabies treatment
of: Dr. Joel Bañez, Section of Dermatology, UERMMH
1. White candlesticks (4)
2. Coconut oil or any cooking oil: 500 cc
3. Kakawati leaves 250 g
1. Clean kakawati leaves thoroughly
2. Chop leaves finely
3. Add 250 g (approximately 1 glass) of finely chopped leaves into 2
glasses of coconut oil.
4. Mix while boiling.
5. Gather leaves on the surface of the oil, then drain using a strainer.
6. Get 4 white candles ('esperma") and chop finely.
7. Add to the boiled preparation and mix until all chopped candles are
8. Again, using a strainer, drain and transfer mixture into a clean
glass container. Let it cool.
In South America, in times of scarcity, the forage is fed to livestock.
Although goats can consume large quantities of plants with tannins,
some animals, like cattle and sheep may not tolerate it due to a salivary
protein binding factor that binds the tannins.