African tulip tree

Native to tropical Africa, African tulip tree is a fast-growing evergreen tree. It is known to infest disturbed rainforest, where it out-competes native vegetation.

African tulip trees are sometimes planted as ornamentals or street trees. Non-invasive native alternatives to the African tulip tree are black bean (Castanospermum australe), wheel of fire (Stenocarpus sinuatus) and flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius).

African tulip tree is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Spathodea campanulata

Description

  • Evergreen tree growing very quickly up to 24m tall.
  • Leaves are about 20cm long, oval-shaped, strongly veined, bronze when young, deep glossy green when mature.
  • Leaflets are leathery, leaf stalks are 6-15cm long.
  • Flower buds are bronze-green, velvety, in large, flat clusters.
  • Flowers are large, orange-red, with yellow frilly edges.
  • Seed capsules are reddish-brown, up to 20cm long.

Habitat

  • Often found around gullies and along footpaths.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Widespread in tropical and subtropical Queensland where it is a popular ornamental garden tree and street tree.

Life cycle

  • Reproduces via seeds and suckers.
  • Flowering occurs at most times of year and increases during spring.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Infests gullies, vegetation around waterways, and disturbed rainforest, where it out-competes native vegetation.
  • Flowers are toxic to native stingless bees. Natural regeneration affected as bees pollinate native vegetation.

How it is spread

  • Can spread from single planting.
  • Seeds spread by wind, and by water when plants are near waterways.
  • Also spread by garden waste dumped in bushland.

Control

Physical control

  • Dig out or hand-pull when soil is moist.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are most effective control method.

See the African tulip tree fact sheet (PDF, 704KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • Biological control is being investigated in other countries, but African tulip tree is not a target for biological control in Australia.

Legal requirements

  • African tulip tree is a restricted 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 everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their 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 and animals in its 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.
Last updated
01 July 2016