Leucaena Species, Cowbush, Jumbay, Lead Tree, Wild River Tamarind, White Popinac

Leucaena leucocephala

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Leucaena (loo-KAY-nuh) (Info)
Species: leucocephala (loo-koh-SEF-uh-lus) (Info)
Synonym:Acacia leucocephala



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Mesa, Arizona

Sacramento, California

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

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Austin, Texas

Jacksonville, Texas

Mission, Texas

Shepherd, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 17, 2020, eline65 from Mesa, AZ wrote:

This tree grows aggressively in Phoenix AZ in homes with irrigation.My neighbor has one that in as tall as the telephone poles It leaves thousands of seeds in my back yard every year and seedling spring up in the lawn, along my foundation, and cracks of the sidewalks. 5 years ago a couple of them planted in the other neighbors hose and it's over 30 feet tall, and that's after the prior owner cut it down (didn't remove the trunk.) The wood is week so the branches are breaking off whenever we have the monsoon storms. It regrows easily if you cut the stem anywhere above the ground. I have to spray lawn weed killer aggressively to keep control of all the multitude of seedlings that pop up every week. The seed pods open in mid air spraying seeds everywhere, or they land unopened and break apar... read more


On Oct 17, 2018, floramakros from Sacramento Valley, CA wrote:

By far the quickest and most dense species to use as a privacy screen outside the wonderful but much more pricey bamboo family. If you have an unsightly wall or a series of intruding neighbor's windows over a fence on your property line this will completely solve the problem not in a decade or after planting a row of very expensive mature conifers but in only 1 year after planting seedlings germinated quite easily from a seed pack that costs you only a couple of dollars. It's the cheapest, quickest hedgerow from seed to mature tree on the planet. Once established the screen is nearly indestructible, easily tolerates drought, full sun or shade, high temperatures etc. Only freezing temps slow it down. Not to mention many people find its intricate leaves and spherical flowers very attractive.... read more


On Feb 23, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The World Conservation Union IUCN has included this shrubby species on their list of 100 of the world's worst invasive species, an honor it shares with only 31 land plants.

Native to Belize, Guatamala, and southern Mexico, it has naturalized in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Hawaii. It is highly invasive in the dryer parts of Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Bahamas, Fiji, South America, Europe, Florida, and Hawaii, where it forms dense thicket monocultures.


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.


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 i... read more


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 ... read more


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.


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.


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 v... read more