Leucaena

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Leucaena leucocephala

Description

This perennial shrub or small tree can grow to 6 metres tall. Leaves are dark green, fern-like with many pairs of 4 sided greyish-green leaflets.

Leaves are arranged on alternate areas of the stem and are about 25 centimetres long.

Flowers are small, creamy-yellow, wattle-like ‘ball’ flowers, on short stalks about 5 centimetres long; single, or in pairs in leaf axils. It flowers all year round.

Seeds are in dense clusters of flat green pods that turn pale to dark-brown when mature. They grow to 15 centimetres long and two centimetres wide. Each pod contains about 20 glossy-brown, flat seeds that scatter when ripe.

Habitat it rapidly colonises creek lines and may intensify flooding effects.

Weed characteristics it can form dense thickets on roadsides and other disturbed areas, inhibiting growth of other species and reducing ground cover.

Dispersal it is a prolific seed producer and re-establishes from basal shoots after fire. Seeds can remain dormant for up to 15 years. The seeds will germinate sporadically, making control very difficult. Shattering of pods causes local dispersal of seeds in the vicinity of the parent plant, while vehicles and flowing water disperse seeds longer distances.

Declaration Details

This species is not a declared plant under Queensland legislation, although its control is recommended. It is declared as one of the world’s worst weeds.

How to act

Slashing is an effective way of keeping this plant under control. Basal barking is very effective at controlling small infestations. Foliar spraying can be effective for spraying small plants that have heavy foliage cover. Long term control requires control of the seed bank. After controlling mature plants, burn the site to break seed dormancy and spray germinating seeds with glyphosate.

Refer to Weed Control Methods.

Photos

References

Related information

Leucaena © NQ Dry Tropics 2011
Leucaena © NQ Dry Tropics 2011

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