Native to Central and South America, leucaena is a small tree that has been planted for fodder in many tropical areas of the world, including Queensland.

Leucaena is listed as a weed in New Guinea, Hawaii, western Polynesia and the USA. In Australia, it has naturalised in many areas and on a number of offshore islands. Unless heavily grazed or otherwise controlled, leucaena can spread rapidly to adjacent areas.

Leucaena is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Leucaena leucocephala

Other names

  • Coffee bush, cow tamarind, horse tamarind, jumbie bean


  • Shrub up to 6m tall.
  • Leaves are about 25cm long, bipinnate, with dull, greyish-green leaflets.
  • Flower heads are spherical, creamy-yellow, on short stalks about 5cm long.
  • Fruit are flattened pods up to 15cm long, in dense clusters.
  • Each pod contains about 20 flat, glossy brown seeds that scatter when ripe.


  • Found on disturbed sites, in gardens and waste areas, and along creek lines and roadsides.
  • Prefers tropical and subtropical areas.


  • Found across Queensland.
  • Most common in South East, central and North Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Sets seeds and flowers year-round.



  • Forms dense thickets, hindering movement of wildlife and excluding all other plants.


  • Forms thickets along roadsides that can decrease visibility.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by cattle, wind, water and machinery.
  • Spreads rapidly to adjacent areas unless heavily grazed or controlled.


Physical control

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

Read the Leucaena fact sheet (PDF, 3.3MB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Legal requirements

  • Leucaena is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on Leucaena. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information