Tree Lucerne syn. Tagasaste Growing Information
© Frances Michaels
Tree Lucerne syn. Tagasaste syn. Canary Island Tree Lucerne
Botanical Name: Chamaecytisus palmensis
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.
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 -9°C.
Recommended Planting Time:
- 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
Spring, or during the wet season, soil temperature
should be at least 20°C for germination, a higher soil temperature will give a more even germination.
It can be direct-seeded, or planted into forestry tubes and
later transplanted. Sow the seed 2.5 cm deep.
Soaking seeds overnight will improve germination. Protect young plants
from all grazing animals.
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.