Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Lead Tree, White Tamarind, Leucaena
Leucaena leucocephala

Family: Mimosaceae
Genus: Leucaena (loo-KAY-nuh) (Info)
Species: leucocephala (loo-koh-SEF-uh-lus) (Info)

Synonym:Leucaena leucocephala subsp. leucocephala

17 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Monocromatico
Thumbnail #1 of Leucaena leucocephala by Monocromatico

By Monocromatico
Thumbnail #2 of Leucaena leucocephala by Monocromatico

By QueenB
Thumbnail #3 of Leucaena leucocephala by QueenB

By Floridian
Thumbnail #4 of Leucaena leucocephala by Floridian

By NativePlantFan9
Thumbnail #5 of Leucaena leucocephala by NativePlantFan9

By NativePlantFan9
Thumbnail #6 of Leucaena leucocephala by NativePlantFan9

By Gustichock
Thumbnail #7 of Leucaena leucocephala by Gustichock

There are a total of 18 photos.
Click here to view them all!


No positives
3 neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral realbirdlady On Jan 27, 2010, realbirdlady from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Leucaena leucoccephala is native to central america, where it is used for fodder and firewood, as well as to provide shade for coffee plants.

Neutral guygee On May 8, 2009, guygee from Satellite Beach, FL wrote:

I found this plant last summer growing in a 5-gallon pot on the side of the road in a neighbor's throwaway pile. Thinking it was a native False Tamarind ( Lysiloma latisiliqua) I saved it in the backyard while I was busy with other projects. During the rainy season it doubled in size, and when I decided to plant it in my front yard later in the fall I had to hack off the roots that had grown several feet through the pot in all directions. Although this abuse caused the leaves to drop and some of the branch tips to die, the tree almost immediately sprouted new green shoots all over its crown that now have grown over a foot in length (and we are still in the dry season here).

Now that it is flowering and fruiting I am disappointed to find that this is a specimen of Lead Tree instead of a False Tamarind, distinguished by its flat (instead of twisted) seed pods and its solitary flowers (as opposed to the clustered flowers of the False Tamarind). Since it is serving its purpose as a shade tree in front of some large windows for now I suppose I will keep it temporarily while being careful to trim off and dispose of the seed pods, at least until I can grow a more desirable species to take its place.

2013 update: That tree grew several meters until I cut it down about a year ago. It became impossible to deadhead everything and seeds started to sprout all over the yard. They are easy to pull out and I looked at it as green manure as the seedling roots were often nodulated. I can see that this tree would be nightmarishly invasive if left neglected or grown anywhere close to a watercourse or any other place it can spread into the wild. In my yard seeds are still sprouting. After the tree was cut I got one flush of coppice growth and that was all. I know this tree was touted as an agricultural miracle and large plantations were created for livestock fodder in other countries where it is non-native.

Negative Nate72277 On Jan 19, 2006, Nate72277 from Palm Bay, FL wrote:

I bought a house recently in Palm Bay, FL (Central FL) that had what I believe to be White Tamarind trees growing from every imaginable place on the property. They OBVIOUSLY were not planted there intentionally. One tree already 15-20ft. high was growing right out of the base of a hedge directly on the corner of the house. Another was growing out of a seam in one of the downspouts and was already 6ft. high! There were a few trees 3ft. high or so growing out of an untended patch of land full of post-hurricane debris. Not to mention the numerous tiny plants all over the yard from the plethora of seed pods.
These were all growing prolifically and without human care - I can't imagine anyone actually planting one! The guy next door was trying to tell me the one in his yard was a "mango or avocado tree". Needless to say, I felt it my duty to enlighten him.
Definitely in the same category as the pepper tree - Extremely Invasive!

Neutral QueenB On Oct 1, 2004, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Will freeze to the ground, but will come back in the spring. Gets a late start since it has to grow mature branches in order to bloom, so blooms late summer to early fall here. Will probably do best as a shrub rather than a tree since it doesn't get very big.

Negative NativePlantFan9 On Sep 13, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is also invasive in much of central and southern Florida, northward to Georgia, including in my Boca Raton area. It is very invasive in natural habitats all over the county I live in and forms large, spreading stands of young and adult trees, crowding out native plants. It is also often found with other invasive, non-native species such as Brazilian Pepper, in natural areas that have already been disturbed by other exotic invaders. NOTE: This plant is also on the Florida Exotic Pest Plants Council's EPPC Plant List Category One due to this invasiveness.

MORE FACTS - This tree also grows in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Caribbean. The tree also grows in Texas and the Southwestern U.S.

Negative Monocromatico On Apr 5, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This is a pest. Introduced accidentally from Africa by the same ships that brought african slaves to America, this small tree found in the tropical America its paradise. Propagating itself in heavy quantities every year through the massive seed production, its one of the most threats to native ecossystems.

This is a short tree, usually reaching up to 5 meters tall, but sometimes more. It has bipinnate leaves, with leaflets looking grey on the lower page and bright green on the upper one. These leaflets drop constantly, producing an annoying ammount of litter every day.

The flowers are cream coloured, coming in round heads all the year. They will most likely produce dark seed pods with lots of hard brown seeds with a high germinative ratio.

It vegetates on any kind of soil, dry or moist, as long as it have full sun light and high temperatures. Extremely invasive, and should be erradicated outside its natural habitat, before it does the same to our native species.


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

San Pedro, California
Temecula, California
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Kihei, Hawaii
Austin, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Mission, Texas
Shepherd, Texas

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