Weed Alert – Madras thorn

Hi All,

An excerpt from the Weed  Spotters Network June Newsletter.

Good to know that weed spotters and the Noosa Council are taking prompt action when it comes to serious, Restricted (Biosecurity Act 2014) weeds.

Best wishes,


Weed Spotters in action:
Tracking down Madras thorn


Ken English from Noosa Shire Council was recently contacted by a landholder regarding the sighting of an unusual, prickly tree in a back-yard. Ken suspected the tree could be Madras thorn (Pithecellobium dulce), a Restricted (Category 2,3,4,5) species under theBiosecurity Act 2014.

Despite its common name, Madras thorn is native to America. It has largely been found being cultivated as an ornamental plant but in 2013, Madras thorn was recorded naturalising outside of cultivation (becoming weedy) for the first time in Queensland at Ella Bay National Park, near Innisfail. Its ability to grow quickly to form dense thickets and out-compete native species makes Madras thorn a priority species for eradication.

Ken contacted local Biosecurity Officer Stacy Harris for advice and together they sent a specimen to the Queensland Herbarium for identification. The Herbarium was able to confirm the 8 m tree as only the fourth detection of Madras thorn in Queensland and it has subsequently been destroyed.

If you think you have seen Madras thorn in your region, please contact the Queensland Herbarium on (07) 3896 9323, email a photo to:Queensland.Herbarium@qld.gov.au or contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Madras thorn


Have you seen Madras thorn?

Be on the lookout for Madras thorn and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling Madras thorn.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to a large region of America (from southern California to Columbia and Venezuela), madras thorn is a fast-growing tree that is generally planted as an ornamental. Uncontrolled populations of madras thorn can form dense thickets and out-compete native vegetation and pasture.

Madras thorn is rare in Queensland, possibly restricted to gardens. An opportunity exists to prevent it becoming a serious problem here. To achieve this, madras thorn must not be sold or grown as a garden ornamental anywhere in the state.

Madras thorn a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Pithecellobium dulce

Other names

Manila tamarind


  • Attractive fast-growing tree up to 20m tall.
  • Most specimens have pair of short, sharp spines at base of each leaf.
  • Flowers are small white heads, 1cm in diameter.
  • Mature seed pods are pinkish.
  • Seeds are numerous.


  • Tolerates drought.
  • Grows on poor soils in dry climates and along coastlines, including areas where roots are in brackish or salt water.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Rarely found in Queensland, possibly confined to gardens.

Life cycle

  • Propagation is by seed or cuttings.
  • Germination takes 1-2 days.



  • Forms dense thickets.
  • Out-competes desirable native vegetation.


  • Invades pasture.
  • Can spread quickly across vast tracts of tropical and sub-tropical areas, and become costly to agriculture and the environment.

How it is spread

  • Spreads by seeds or cuttings.


  • Call 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be madras thorn to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

  • Madras thorn a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • All sightings of madras thorn must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours of the sighting.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of spread of the plant until they receive advice from an authorised officer.
  • It must not be kept, moved, given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.

More information

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