Mexican bean tree


Have you seen Mexican bean tree?

Be on the lookout for Mexican bean tree and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in preventing Mexican bean tree from becoming a major problem in Queensland.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to tropical America, Mexican bean trees are among the most abundant invasive plants across large parts of Central America. These fast-maturing trees are quick to colonise open, disturbed sites or cyclone-damaged forests. They can cause serious and irreversible damage to native ecosystems.

An unknown number of Cecropia specimens were given away or sold by a private plant collector, possibly the original importer, near Mission Beach, north Queensland.

You must manage the impacts of Mexican bean tree on your land.

You must not give away, sell or release Mexican bean tree into the environment.

You must report all sightings to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.

Scientific name

Cecropia pachystachya, C. palmata and C. peltata

Similar species

  • Snakewood, pumpwood, trumpet tree, wild pawpaw, tree of sandpaper


  • Fast-growing tree 10–20m tall, sometimes up to 25m tall.
  • Leaves are alternate, 10–50cm wide, resemble paw-paw leaves.
  • Lower leaf surface is densely covered with white hairs.
  • Leafstalks are usually 23–30cm long.
  • Hollow stems, flowers and fruits are key features.
  • Yellow flowers are arranged in clusters of spikes, 12–18cm.
  • Fruit is cylindrical, ovoid to oblong-ovoid, somewhat flattened, 3.3–3.7mm long, with soft, sweet flesh around many small seeds.


  • Naturalised specimens are most likely to be found in wetter habitats such as riparian zones and dry rainforest remnants.


  • Found in gardens in Mackay, Cairns, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Life cycle

  • Matures in 3–5 years.
  • Recorded to flower as early as 3.3 years of age.
  • Flowers are wind-pollinated and produce about 18% viable seeds.



  • Potential to invade and dominate moderately moist forest ecosystems in north Queensland, possibly causing serious and irreversible damage.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by fruit bats and birds.


  • Phone 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be Mexican bean tree to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

Mexican bean tree is a category 2, 3, 4 and 5 restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. All other Mexican bean trees (approx. 58 species) (that is Cecropia spp. other than C. pachystachyaC. palmata and C. peltata) are prohibited invasive plants.

  • You must not keep, move, given away, sell or release into the environment. Penalties may apply.
  • All sightings of Mexican bean trees must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours of the sighting.
  • You must take all reasonable and practical measures to minimise the biosecurity risks associated with dealing with Mexican bean tree under your control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on Mexican bean tree. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local council for more information.

Further information