Homalanthus populifolius

Queensland poplar

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Origin: Australia, New Guinea

Queensland poplar tree next to a fence.
Leaves have a distinctive spade shape, with green centres and red edges. In the cooler months the whole leaf can turn red.
Photo credit: Weedbusters

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Aotea — Eradication
  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Shrub or small tree < 5 m tall, produces latex. Leaves are < 20 cm long and turn red in cooler months. Flowers are borne in racemes < 17 cm long in September – November. Fruit is fleshy, bivalved and < 1 cm in diameter.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Queensland poplar. As Queensland poplar is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Queensland poplar within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Queensland poplar on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Auckland Council will control Queensland poplar at all sites within the Aotea/Great Barrier Island group where it is known to occur.

If you see Queensland poplar anywhere on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group, please report it to Auckland Council at pestfree@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.


Roadsides, scrubland, regenerating forest, forest gaps and margins, plantations, coastal areas, gardens, disturbed sites.


Seeds dispersed by birds, gravity and water. Human-mediated dispersal through contaminated machinery.

Impact on environment

Displaces native plant species in scrubland, regenerating bush, pine forest and coastal ecosystems.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel or ringbark stem and paste with metsulfuron gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray seedlings with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Queensland Poplar sapling in pampas.
A small tree that grows up to 5m tall. The tree produces latex when the bark is cut.
Queensland Poplar leaf tips with flowers.
A very hardy tree that can grow in a variety of habitats but prefers hot open locations. Flowers form into fruit that are eaten by birds and carried away.
Queensland poplar tree with lots of berries.
Tree trunks are smooth and single-stemmed. Because seeds like to germinate in disturbed areas, trees can take over where other natives would normally grow.
Photo credit: Weedbusters
Close up of Queensland poplar berries and flowers.
Young stems of the poplar are bright red and contrast with the green leaves. Young saplings can be hand pulled and larger trees can be cut and herbicide applied to the stumps.
Photo credit: Weedbusters