Umbrella tree

Native to tropical Australia, New Guinea and Java, umbrella tree is a fast-growing evergreen that has spread beyond its native range in Queensland. In its natural ecosystem, umbrella tree maintains a balance with other native species but, in southern Queensland, it out-competes local native species.

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

Scientific name

Schefflera actinophylla

Description

  • Multi-trunked, evergreen tree up to 15m tall.
  • Bark is smooth, grey.
  • Leaves are compound, with stalks up to 40cm long.
  • Flowers are red, with 7-18 (usually 12) petals each 3-5mm long, same number of stamens, clustered along radiating spikes up to 60cm long that grow umbrella-like above leaves.
  • Fruit is dark red, ribbed, up to 3-5mm long with single seed.
  • Seeds are pale brown, oval, 4mm wide,10mm long.

Habitat

  • Prefers native bushland, national parks, undisturbed sites.
  • Also found in backyards.

Distribution

  • Native to Queensland north of Tropic of Capricorn.
  • Also found in southern Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Flowers mostly during spring and summer.
  • Fruit appears during winter.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Invades national parks, remnant bushland, undisturbed forests and reserves.
  • Harms local ecosystems' flora and fauna.

Economic

  • Roots can pressure building foundations and block plumbing joints and pipes.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by birds, particularly through native bushland.
  • Dried fruits and seeds float readily in water and have high level of dormancy.

Control

Physical control

  • Cut down or dig up depending on size.
  • Treat stump with herbicide to prevent reshooting.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

See the Umbrella tree fact sheet (PDF, 816KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Umbrella tree 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 and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information