Leucaena leucocephala

Wild tamarind

Also known as:

Lead tree

Family: Fabaceae

Origin: Mexico and Central America

Wild Tamarind leaves with one flower and some flower buds.
Wild tamarind is an evergreen tree that grows up to 10m tall. Delicate feathery leaves create dappled light when the trees are mature.
Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Not a legally declared pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Evergreen shrub or small tree < 10 m tall. Stems are green and hairy, maturing to grey-brown and smooth with many raised pores. Leaves are alternate and bipinnate, with < 10 pairs of pinnae and < 22 pairs of elongated, pointy-tipped pinnules. Flowers are white and borne in dense globe-shaped clusters on spikes in summer. Seed pods are elongated, flattened, green ripening to brown, pointy-tipped and contain glossy, brown seeds.

What you need to know

Although wild tamarind is not a legally declared pest plant, it may still be invasive in some situations. Consider lower risk alternatives for your garden, such as native plants.


Coastal areas, open areas, riparian margins, disturbed sites, wasteland, gardens, roadsides.


Seeds dispersed by water, wind, gravity, insects, rodents and livestock. Human-mediated dispersal through movement of contaminated soil.

Impact on environment

Can form dense thickets, outcompeting and displacing native vegetation. Nitrogen fixer. Can be toxic to livestock.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Crown lift to allow understory plants to establish or to underplant prior to controlling large trees.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Trees can be chipped and used as mulch, preferably when not in seed.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with double strength glyphosate gel
or ringbark and paste cut with double strength glyphosate gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray seedlings with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water
or ringbark and spray cut with 750ml glyphosate green per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Drill and inject trees with 750ml glyphosate green and 10ml penetrant per 1L of water, if safe to do so. Drill 18mm holes (tangentially angled downwards) in a spiral up the trunk. For 50mm stems drill one hole. For 100mm stems drill two holes. For larger stems drill holes 150mm apart. Foliar spray seedlings with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Safety notes

Large trees must not be drilled or ringbarked that are closer than 1.5 times the height of the tree from paths, walkways and property.

Trees over 4 metres in height should be removed by a qualified arborist.

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

Wild Tamarind flower and flower buds.
Once wild tamarind flowers are pollinated, they form into long flat and green pods. Over the summer the pods become brown and dry out, opening to release glossy brown seeds.
Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr
Close up of immature Wild Tamarind seed pods.
Not legally declared a pest in Auckland but has the potential to be weedy. Wild tamarind can form dense thickets that out-compete native plants.
Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr