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Tree Lucerne syn. Tagasaste Growing Information Frances Michaels

Common Name: Tree Lucerne syn. Tagasaste syn. Canary Island Tree Lucerne
Botanical Name: Chamaecytisus palmensis syn. proliferus
Family: Fabaceae
Origin: Canary Islands
Plant Description: A small shrubby tree to a height and crown diameter of about 5m. Branches often are long leafy and drooping, flowers are white, fragrant and abundant. There are no thorns.
Ecology: This plant is native to the extremely arid volcanic slopes of the Canary Islands. It prefers sandy soils, but thrives on gravels, loams, limestone and laterites. Its rainfall range is 350 to 1600 mm annually. Soils must be free-draining to avoid infection with root-rot fungus. A pH of 5 to 7 is tolerated. It can survive cold winters down to -9C.
Uses:
  • Animal Fodder; the crude protein content of leaves is 20-24%, which compares favourably with high quality temperate pasture, all grazing animals, pigs and poultry readily consume the leaves, and there are no reports of toxic compounds.
  • Bee Forage; one of the first trees to flower in spring and it is an excellent nectar source.
  • Timber and fuelwood; it produces a fairly dense wood, useful for woodturning, and has excellent potential as a firewood crop as it coppices readily.
  • Windbreaks; when mature as a close-planted 25-50 cm hedge it provides shelter from cold winds and summer heat. It can be used to underplant pine windbreaks that have developed gaps with age.
  • Alley Cropping; it has potential as an intercrop in temperate orchards and as a nurse crop for frost sensitive trees.
Cultural Requirements

Recommended Planting Time: Spring, or during the wet season, soil temperature should be at least 20C for germination, a higher soil temperature will give a more even germination.
Planting Depth: It can be direct-seeded, or planted into forestry tubes and later transplanted. Sow the seed 2.5 cm deep.
Details: Soaking seeds overnight will improve germination. Protect young plants from all grazing animals.
Inoculant: A group of bacteria called Rhizobium live in a symbiotic relationship with many legumes. This is a big advantage to the plant, as it is able, once inoculated, to produce its own nitrogen, from the soil air. The bacteria are stored in peat, and as this is a living culture, it must be treated with care. It should be stored in the fridge and used within 3 months. Do not separate from the seed packet as the inoculant attached is specific to the individual legume. To use, moisten the seed with a small amount of milk or water and stir in the inoculant until seeds are coated. Do not inoculate the seed until you are ready to sow it and do not leave the inoculated seed in the sun.

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