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Allelopathic research of subtropical vegetation in Taiwan

III. Allelopathic exclusion of understory byLeucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit

Abstract

Leucaena leucocephala plantations in Kaoshu, southern Taiwan, exhibit, after several years of growth, a unique pattern of weed exclusion beneathLeucaena canopy. The pattern has been observed in manyLeucaena plantations in Taiwan and is particularly pronounced in the area where a substantial amount ofLeucaena litter has accumulated on the ground. Field data showed that the phenomenon was primarily not due to physical competition involving light, soil moisture, pH, and nutrients. Instead, aqueous extracts ofLeucaena fresh leaves, litter, soil, and seed exudate showed significantly phytotoxic effects on many test species, including rice, lettuce,Acacia confusa, Alnus formosana, Casuarina glauca, Liquidambar formosana, andMimosa pudica. However, the extracts were not toxic to the growth ofLeucaena seedlings. The decomposing leaves ofLeucaena also suppressed the growth of the aforementioned plants grown in pots but did not inhibit that ofLeucaena plants. By means of paper and thin-layer chromatography, UV-visible spectrophotometry, and high-performance liquid chromatography, 10 phytotoxins were identified. They included mimosine, quercetin, and gallic, protocatechuic,p-hydroxybenzoic,p-hydroxyphenylacetic, vanillic, ferulic, caffeic, andp-coumaric acids. The mature leaves ofLeucaena possess about 5% dry weight of mimosine, the amount varying with varieties. The seed germination and radicle growth of lettuce, rice, and rye grass were significantly inhibited by aqueous mimosine solution at a concentration of 20 ppm, while that of the forest species mentioned was suppressed by the mimosine solution at 50 ppm or above. However, the growth ofMiscanthus floridulus andPinus taiwanensis was not suppressed by the mimosine solution at 200 ppm. The seedlings ofAgeratum conzoides died in mimosine solution at 50 ppm within seven days and wilted at 300 ppm within three days. It was concluded that the exclusion of understory plants was evidently due to the allelopathic effect of compounds produced byLeucaena. The allelopathic pattern was clearly shown in the area with a heavy accumulation ofLeucaena leaf litter, which was a result of drought and heavy wind influence.

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Paper No. 292 of the Scientific Journal Series of the Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan. This study was supported in part by a grant to C.H. Chou. Part of this paper was a MS thesis submitted by Y.L. Kuo to the Department of Forestry, National Taiwan University, and presented at the Seminar on Allelochemicals and Pheromones, sponsored by the CCNAA and AIT on June 21–26, 1982.

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Chou, C.H., Kuo, Y.L. Allelopathic research of subtropical vegetation in Taiwan. J Chem Ecol 12, 1431–1448 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01012362

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01012362

Key Words

  • Allelopathy
  • weed exclusion
  • Leucaena leucocephala
  • phytotoxins
  • mimosine
  • phytotoxic phenolics
  • forest plantation