Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Goldenball Leadtree
Leucaena retusa

Family: Mimosaceae
Genus: Leucaena (loo-KAY-nuh) (Info)
Species: retusa (re-TOO-suh) (Info)

12 members have or want this plant for trade.


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #1 of Leucaena retusa by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #2 of Leucaena retusa by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #3 of Leucaena retusa by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #4 of Leucaena retusa by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #5 of Leucaena retusa by Jeff_Beck

By frostweed
Thumbnail #6 of Leucaena retusa by frostweed

By frostweed
Thumbnail #7 of Leucaena retusa by frostweed

There are a total of 8 photos.
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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Juttah On Aug 17, 2012, Juttah from Tucson, AZ (Zone 8a) wrote:

A pretty little tree that does very well here in the desert. No thorns or insect problems; very clean. Flowers are mildly fragrant up-close and not attractive to bees. It's a mystery why this tree is not more widely available here in Tucson.

We planted ours from a 1-gallon pot last year in bare soil. It took about a month for the tree to get comfortable and start growing. One year later we established a lawn around it, and it's not had any problems going from desert conditions to frequent lawn watering.

According to some sources this tree has brittle branches, but we've not had problems with our now 6' tall tree, not even after last week's 80 mph microburst! Growth rate is moderate and very easily controlled.

This tree tends to "lion tail" (bushy growth on branch ends, like a Dr. Seuss tree). I pinch out the growing tips to counteract this tendency. Our tree leafs out early with intensely spring-green foliage that never fails to draw compliments. If you're looking for a small, tropical-looking yet xeric tree near your pool or patio, consider this one.

Positive texasyardman On May 28, 2004, texasyardman from Austin, TX wrote:

We have one eight-year old specimen in our yard that receives maximum sunlight possible. Very upright habit with moderately spreading crown, it's currently about 22-24' high, but added growth this year. Tidy tree by our experience-no yard litter from seeds or pods. It's in flower now, and is quite distinctive with the blooms at the branch tips. Would highly recommend it.

Positive frostweed On Mar 13, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This tree is a fast grower, It can grow 5 feet in one year but it will not go over 25 or 30 feet. I cut mine back a few feet every year to keep new growth going and it looks great. The blossoms are like little fuzzy balls and they have a lovely scent. The foliage is lacy and delicate. I love this tree.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama
Marana, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Crawford, Texas
Iredell, Texas
Mico, Texas
Round Rock, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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