Fence stake is native to Central America, but is now grown in many tropical and subtropical countries. The tree can grow up to 10 m high, with light green compound leaves and bears clusters of pinkish-purplish flowers.
In Jamaica fence stake leaves are usually juiced, mixed with a little salt and taken for, colds. An infusion of the leaves is also used for colds, fevers, pain and gonorrhoea.
In the Philippines, fence stake is used for dermatitis and itchy skin. The juice or a decoction of leaves, bark or roots is applied to the skin for relief. Fresh, crushed leaves can also be applied to the skin to treat scabies, as an insect repellent and as a poultice for rheumatic pains, sprains and closed fractures. The sap of the bark is said to be effective for healing wounds.
Modern Research & Uses
According to recent research, fence stake can be useful in treating tumours, fungal infections, diarrhoea, dysentery, kidney and liver problems. Other studies have shown that fence stake has antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and psychotropic properties.
One study reported that an alcohol extract of fence stake had significant activity against staphylococcus aureus. Research undertaken in Jamaica has reported that fence stake had no effect on five bacteria. In clinical trials in the Philippines fence stake was found to be as effective as commercially available products in treating scabies.
Fence stake contains: 40.7g of condensed tannins/kg dry matter, isoflavonoids; afrormosin , formononetin, gliricidin-6a, gliricidol-9A, medicarpin, 7,4'-dihydroxy-3'-methoxyisoflavin, 2'-O-methylsepiol, 7,3',4'-trihydroxyflavanon, stigmastanol glucoside, triterpenes and coumarin
Fence stake wood is popular for burning charcoal and for firewood. The local name reflects its main use, to make living fences. The wood is hard and durable and can be made into small household items and implements.
The leaves can be crushed and used to rid dogs and cattle of fleas and ticks. Fence stake can be useful for animals in other ways as a nutritious feed. The roots of the fence stake can decrease soil nematode populations, and control insects and fungi.