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Yellow fever tree


Have you seen Yellow fever tree?

Be on the lookout for Yellow fever tree and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling Yellow fever tree.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to southern and eastern Africa, yellow fever tree is a quick-growing tree with yellow flowers. Its name is thought to reflect its yellow bark and tendency to grown in swampy areas of Africa, where malaria is common. Yellow fever tree can form dense thickets that replace pasture and native plants.

Yellow fever tree has been detected in three gardens in Queensland but does not appear to have naturalised. If it escapes cultivation and spreads, it could become a costly pest of grazing land across substantial areas of Central Queensland.

A similar species, Vachellia nilotica, currently costs Queensland's grazing industry $3-5 million per annum and has spread over 6 million hectares. An opportunity exists to eradicate yellow fever tree and prevent it from becoming a major pest.

Yellow fever tree is a prohibited invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Vachellia xanthophloea

Similar species

  • Vachellia nilotica


  • Quick-growing tree 10-25m tall.
  • Bark is smooth, slightly flaking, coated with distinctive greenish-yellow powder that can be rubbed away to reveal green colour.
  • Leaves are bipinnate, with 4-7 pairs of pinnae and 10-17 pairs of leaflets per pinnae.
  • Leaflets are 2.5-6.5mm × 0.75-1.75mm.
  • Petiolar glands are usually present at base of upper pinnae pairs.
  • Spines are white, straight, strong, arranged in pairs.
  • Flowers are yellow, spherical, fragrant, clustered on slender stalks where spines join stems.
  • Fruits are flat, papery, light brown pods, 5-19cm long, containing 5-10 seeds per pod.
  • Seeds are elliptical, flattened, dark brown, released when pod bursts open.


  • Prefers riparian and other low-lying habitats in tropical and subtropical savannahs.


  • Only found in gardens, but could spread over large areas of Central Queensland if escapes into wild.

Life cycle

  • Reproduces from seeds.
  • Flowers pollinated by insects.
  • Pods take 4-6 months to mature.



  • Forms dense thickets that could replace native plants and pastures.
  • Long-lived seeds would be difficult to control once established.


  • Dominates grazing land along banks of waterways.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by cattle.


  • Call 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be yellow fever tree to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

  • Yellow fever tree is a prohibited invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires that all sightings to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of Yellow fever tree spreading until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information