Leopard Tree

Libidibia ferrea

formerly Caesalpinia ferrea
Family: Fabaceae Origin: Native to Brazil and Bolivia, South America

A large, semi-deciduous tree, the Leopard Tree can be pruned to a size suitable for suburban streets. This feature, its ornamental floral and autumn leaf display plus its hardiness in drought and frost conditions have seen the tree used by many Queensland councils and landscapers.

In recent times however, the trees have been deemed a nuisance because of their tendency to spread roots beneath concrete and into pipes. Also, because their fallen seed pods present a significant trip hazard to pedestrians and because the trees’ branches cannot support weight and are therefore difficult to prune without the assistance of an elevated work platform. We recommend tree removal if it is located near a structure.

The wood from Leopard Trees can present as an instant allergen to a number of people who have previously been unexposed. Despite this, it is a widely used in flooring, furniture manufacturing and to make gun grips. Its particular tonal qualities also mean that the trees’ timber is ideal for use in guitars.

Growth form

Typically cropped to 10-12 metres or less for suburban plantings, the trees can get to 20 metres tall when left to grow. With age, the trees’ canopy becomes dense and their trunk thickens. The branches spread to 6-8 metres.

leopard tree



close-up of leopard tree bark

The tree sheds its bark leaving a distinctive, grey and white dappled effect across the trunk. The pattern is reminiscent of leopard-print, hence the trees’ unique name.


close-up of yellow leopard tree flowers

Spikes of bright yellow flowers are produced at the ends of stems on the tree, the colour further reinforcing the trees’ commonly derived name. These panicles can become messy when falling and do attract birds, bees and butterflies to the tree.


Leopard trees have delicate, layered foliage with very small acacia-like leaves.
Growing in compound formation, the leaflets average 2.5 cm in length although when used in bonsai, the leaves can be stunted to as little as 1.5 cm each.
They foliage is dark green until autumn when it drops in a spectacular display of raining red. Regrowth appears as a pinkish-red, later developing to its mature green.



Indehiscent, the hard seedpods of these trees will not break open without assistance. Once hammered apart, the seeds inside are relatively easy to germinate. They need to be scarified and soaked in water but afterwards will readily take to soil and sprout within days.

Propagation from cuttings is also possible when older wood is used in combination with dipping into a plant hormone.


Fast-growing if given fertile, well-drained soil and full-sun. The main consideration when cultivating these trees is to plant in open areas away from underground sewerage systems, pipes or beneath concrete where they will invade. As Brisbane arborists, we hear more complaints about leopard trees than any other tree.

Very hardy, Leopard Trees survive drought-conditions, cold tending to frost, root pruning and transplantation. The tree can also be clipped at a young age without causing any damage to its development.

An ongoing cleaning schedule is necessary to prevent the trees from becoming a problem. They will drop leaves all-year round with increases in autumn. Their flowers fall as well as their hard, black seed pods which can form a tripping hazard on paths and walkways or cause injury if left on the grass and flicked at high speeds when spat out by mower blades.

95 thoughts on “Leopard Tree”

  1. Hi. We have a great big leopard tree between our house and the neighbours. Its been great for shade and plays a great role in keeping our house cool in summer. We had never considered chopping it down however my neighbour had solar installed, and the installer gave no consideration to the tree when they chose to install directly underneath it. My neighbour does not expect us to remove it altogether however out of courtesy we have agreed to cut it back. Does it make it less safe to cut it back? It survived a category 3 cyclone so i had never been concerned about it falling, but i see here they are prone to falling. Should we just be removing it altogether?

  2. Hi David, wonderful article. I am in a similar situation to many of the other commentators. My neighbour has a large Leopard tree maybe 15-20m tall situated about 2m from the boundary. A large portion of the canopy is over my lawn (1/3), and the Leaf litter, shade and roots are killing my lawn (couch).

    Originally I was going to have a chat with my neighbour and get the tree pruned back to the boundary line, but reading the comments and your replies I see that it would vigorously grow back…

    What alternative options do I have? Could I retrospectively install a root barrier, cutting back any existing roots which drill under my property? Could I plant a different species of grass which can tolerate the conditions better? Or should I bite the bullet and discuss tree removal with my neighbour?

  3. jasmine cavalliotis

    Hi David I am in far North Queensland and my leopard tree is a pride of my backyard, at least 20mtrs tall. It is suddenly oozing quite a lot of foamy sticky maybe sap? Do you recommend getting someone in to look at it or due to the size and great health it is in is this not a great concern and the tree will rectify itself? I love it dearly and would be heartbroken if i were to lose it.

    Thanks Jasmine

    1. Anthony Cavalliotis

      Sounds like a parasite made it’s way into the property. A hot fix will finish the nasty, little creature off. : )

    2. Hi
      I’d definitely recomemd getting a suitably qualified Arborist with minimum Diploma/Level 5 ualifixatin to carry out an assessment and recomemd any remedial works that may be required

  4. Hi,
    I’m hoping someone can help me with who to contact re absorbent work order received from Brisbane City Council.
    We’ve trimmed back leopard tree north side of Brisbane on footpath as they’re a very messy tree.
    Council has since issued work order, not a fine, for over $7000 as cost of replacement tree. Have tried speaking with local councillor and unable to afford solicitor. Any advice would be appreciated.

  5. I rue the day Brisbane City Council decided to plant 3 of these mongrel trees (quite close together) on our footpath. This was done back in the mid-1980s, so they’re now quite large. 1 in particular scares the hell out of me during severe thunderstorms. The sheer quantity of debris they dump is a nightmare, the leaves being the worst. I’m up an extension ladder twice a year cleaning out my guttering. Then there’s the blanket of seed pods on the footpath.

    1. If the trees were planted in the 1980s when did you buy/build your house?
      How often do you think is reasonable to clean your gutters?

  6. Hi David,
    We have recently purchased a property in Boronia Heights and yes, I did realise there is a Leopard tree in the neighbouring yard. Well I thought it was one, there’s actually 2 within 3 metres of each other, which makes it look like a single canopy. After living here for a couple of months and having many sleepless nights from the nuts/seed pods dropping on the metal patio roof (yes they are that loud), I have approached the neighbour regarding pruning back the overhanging branches. The trees are less than a metre from the boundary fence and overhang into our property 4 to 5 metres at a decent height. Doing a quick triangulation calculation, we’re talking in excess of 20 metres height top of canopy. I have approached the neighbour regarding pruning back the overhang, but they don’t want to lose the shape of the tree and refuse any thought of removal. They called their “tree man” and he didn’t want to touch it and I had a reputable aborist company come to look at the tree Thursday. We all spoke about the problem together and the neighbour has refused anything more than light pruning of the overhanging branches. As the arborist explained, this is simply a waste of time as the regrowth would be vigorous and we’d end up with a bigger problem in 12 months. Personally, as being raised and worked in a rural background, I think these species are an imported weed, completely unsuitable for suburbia. They should be forcibly removed from any built up area. I am trying to be a good neighbour and explore all amiable avenues, but I know the damage the root systems can cause. I can’t believe the neighbours have a shed built between the 2 trees. Any advice is appreciated. (Apart from selling the house) I do happen to own and definitely know how to use a 372XP, ProMac 61 and 435 Husky

    1. Hi Chris. I sincerely sympathise with you. You may have the common law right of abatement to prune all overhanging branches (at your own expense) which would solve your problems, at least for some time. The same goes for the tree’s roots. Of course, we can prune trees in a fashion that assists in maintaining their vigour and balance but it would require your neighbour’s co-operation. Since it’s their tree, we find they usually agree to our suggestions.

      Should you wish your neighbour to pay for the work, I can supply you with an assessment for QCAT and, if required, a report and even appear as an expert witness. Your neighbour has responsibilities as a tree keeper which we can encourage them to meet.

    2. Hi David,

      I also live in Boronia Height and have the same problem – my gutters need cleaning every 2 months!


      1. I live in Boronia Heights too, and this is an awful problem for sure. My Neighbour also has a giant leopard tree right up against our fence dropping branches, leaves, seed pods and flowers in the yard on the roof constantly. Tree has never been pruned or maintained in 20yrs. They say they are “nature lover” I say they are lazy and irresponsible. I am angry that I now have to wear the time and cost (and perhaps legal proceedings) to sort out a problem that is not my responsibility.
        Wish the Logan City Council would make a law that these pest trees need to be contained.

  7. Stacey Nicholson

    Hi David, We have a large leopard tree in our backyard, it’s beautiful branches and foliage reach over the roofline to our house. My husband wants to give it a large trim as it’s blocking the sun from the solar panels on the roof. (I should mention he also refers to it as the possum highway.) I love this tree as does our neighbour as it provides wonderful shade in the hot summer months, not to mention privacy for both households from our deck to their backyard. Well after years of arguing I finally give him permission to cut it back to under the roof line. Well imagine my horror when I came home to only the trunk….fence height (6ft). Will it grow back. Please tell me it will. Yours in mourning.

    1. Hi my husband is cutting back our large leopard tree. I am not happy. He is cutting the big branches. How does one cut a leopard tree without destroying it

      1. Hi Joanne. They are probably the hardest tree (other than perhaps gum trees) to prune without doing more harm than good. At each fork, only one branch may be pruned. It must be cut back to just outside the branch union.

  8. Hello David

    Firstly, thank you for all the wonderful information. It’s comforting to know that you are out there should we need you : )

    Now my question may be ridiculous and if so, I apologise in advance, but I have to know if it is too risky to use the buckets of seed pods I collect to mulch my garden beds? It seems such a waste.


  9. Rachael Pearson.

    Help and or advice needed please. We have a gorgeous leopard tree which we have no intention of cutting down, it’s gorgeous and creates shade and the wildlife like it but there is a problem with the seed pods falling on the roof. (It is very loud). The housing commission neighbour is demanding we cut it down which we won’t do. Yes we keep it trimmed at fence line. What can we do to stop the seed pods hitting the roof? (Thought about shade cloth above roof). My elderly mother is getting very sick from the neighbours harassment. Advice appreciated.

  10. Bill Medhurst

    Hi David,

    Love this blog by the way. I have a large Leopard tree in our backyard, legacy of previous owners, and was unfortunately planted 1m from the neighbour’s fence. We depend on the vast shade it puts over our yard in the afternoon to keep things cool on our western hillside location. Our neighbour loaths it and has cut a 1/3 or more of the crown completely off in a laser line up from the boundary as I guess they are entitled to (and more but wont go there). While the tree is growing back there with a vengance, will it adapt to the imbalance on the weight, are their roots usually strong enough to cope with this change in balance?

  11. Hi David
    I live in Johannesburg, South Africa and I planted two 1-2m high leopard trees in my front garden about 6m apart. I dug two big holes about 1m cube each, mixed the soil with about 100dm of compost per cube, put it back in the holes and planted a tree in each. Added some fertilizer and regulary water. About 3-5 litres per tree per day. After about a month, strong new leaves started appearing and the trees looked happy and healthy. Then, within a week, the one tree started shedding the leaves it had and the new leaves on it went limp and brown. Some have even gone dry. The other tree seems fine. The other leopard trees (5-15m) in the neighbourhood also seem happy. Any idea what my one tree could be unhappy about? D.

    1. Hi Annie. Probably not, but it depends on the level of protection you require and the size and proximity of the tree. Give me a call and I’ll discuss it with you, if you like. 0488 827 267.

  12. Hi there.
    I have a small fish pond underneath a Leopard tree. The plants in the pond are struggling to grow and all other factors such as sunlight, water quality, etc have been accounted for.
    So I would like to ask if you have heard of the leaves or flowers of the Leopard tree causing issues with aquatic plant growth.

    1. Hi Lyle. They don’t come up on any plant toxicity lists, but the large amount of leaf litter they drop could interfere with other plants photosynthesis.

  13. Hi
    My neighbours are having a big Leapard tree near the fenceline. I askedchim many times to prune the overhanging branches. Last time he said not my problem. The problem is that I tripped over the many seed pods. And the branches are over my roof. Would be nice if you could talk with him.
    I am not asking him to get rid of the tree but cut the overhanging branches. He is a very a gry man and never stops to tall with you

    1. Hi Myrella. I’d be happy to talk to him. I try to make peace between neighbours and find even angry people are happy to talk about how to best look after their trees. Please phone me on 0488 827 267.

  14. Hi,

    I have a large leapird tree at the front of my house I would like removed. It’s a beautiful tree but appears to be damaging my stormwater pipe and lifting my driveway. I would love to get a quote from you.

    1. Gday Steve. Thanks but I’m tied up with arboriculture study for the next couple of weeks. I’d be happy to look at it after that. There may be alternative solutions if you want to save your tree.

  15. After reading all the trouble folks are having with Leopard trees I am now reluctant to put seedlings at the local charity market I had no idea they could cause so much trouble.

    1. Hi Denise. True, while beautiful trees they are difficult to manage in residential house blocks. Perhaps you could put your valuable effort into propagating natives which will help pollinate our urban forest and feed our native fauna? You could be helping people, plants, and animals all at the same time.

    2. Hi, our neighbour’s has a leopard tree that is causing damage to our underground pipes. We have offered to pay for the cost of its removal but they refuse to let us cut it down. Would a root barrier work well in the long term? If we apply to QCAT to request permission to have it removed would we likely succeed? Or would the judge lean to alternatives such as root trimming/root barriers?

  16. Hi David
    I recently replaced all the couch grass under my leopard tree with a shade tolerant buffalo grass.
    There’s plenty of dappled sunlight and it did OK for the first year. It’s looking decidedly poorly now however and I was wondering if the constant falling if leaves is the culprit. My neighbour reckons the leaves are particularly acidic and I should try putting extra lime down. Does that sound like good advice ?
    Cheers Tim

    1. Hi Tim. It’s the tree’s roots. Your lawn and the tree are in competition with each other. I suggest an exclusion zone around the tree with a generous layer of woodchip mulch. It will be good for both your lawn and your tree.

  17. For the past few years I have been looking at a street in Singapore lined with Brazilian Ironwood and am amazed at the colouration of the bark. In most material I have checked they mention colour as grey and of course blotchy. But these trees in Singapore have a wide range of colourful bark, orange, green, brown, blue and are visually quite spectactular. Why such a range of colours? Does the species react under different conditions and could they be stressed?

    1. Hi Ken. Leopard tree bark in Brisbane is far less colourful than you describe, though still attractive. I asked Dr. Ganesan, the principal researcher at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, about Eucalyptus deglupta, rainbow gum colouration and he suggested it is brightly coloured due to their high rainfall. Perhaps leopard tree bark is more colourful there for the same reason.

  18. Karen McClary

    Hi Dave just wanting some advice. Next door Neighbour’s which is a rental has a HUGE leopard tree on it. We have been coping with it for 14 years e.g. The seed pods dropping, the leaves, my husband having to clean out gutters at least a month and the whole host of little leopard trees sprouting around the yard. To be frank and I know there will be lots of people disagree with me but honestly I feel like poisoning the tree. We have approached landlord to have it trimmed but as it is not overhanging our property they have said no. It is really enourmous. Can you suggest anything?

    1. Hi Karen. Please don’t poison it. The dead wood would be dangerous for you. You have remedy under the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011.

  19. G’day David,

    My neighbor has just planted a young Leopard tree, about 1.8 m high. It is about 2m from our fence, 5m from a sewage line and 6m from a concrete driveway. Also about 5m from my roof which has solar panels. Will thi become a problem. Should I take drastic action now as my neighbor is unapproachable.

    Cheers Dave

    1. I am in the process of trying to have a large leopard tree removed that is on my neighbours land (Brisbane). The tree is a meter away from my boundary, probably 10 metres or so high, growing rapidly, and is shading my solar panels. If I can convince my neighbour to allow me to remove the tree,

      I doubt that my neighbours will come to the party regarding half payment to remove the tree, so I am looking at $1,500 or more to have it removed

    2. Hi Dave,

      As an arborist I cannot recommend drastic action. Please look at Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011.

  20. I have a large leopard tree on the nature strip in front of
    my house and it is pouring out white sap. it is literally leaking down the full length of the trunk and making a mess of the driveway. This particular tree is one of a few and the others seem to be unaffected.Any ideas of the problem or possible cure?

    1. Massive exudations are usually a response by the tree to borers or other insects that attack the tree’s cambium (a growth layer under the bark). It could also be evidence of a fungal infection. The treatment for borers is to treat tree stressors while for fungus, some are treatable with chemicals while many aren’t. I suggest you phone your local council since it’s on the footpath and ask them to have one of their arborists assess the tree.

  21. We are in Perth and planted 2 leopard trees about March. They have both lost all their leaves and appear to have new growth at all just look like sticks. Any advice please.

    1. Hello, I’ve just read your post & by now I’m hoping your trees are a mass of green leaves & yellow flowers I also am lucky to be the owner of the most beautiful tree, we bought our home almost 11yrs ago & the tree was around 3-4 meters tall & now it’s around 11-12 meters tall & still growing & I have seen trees that appear to be double the size. The tree is ever changing which makes it a source of wonder it is admired by all who visit our home & provides shade for anyone who wishes to take advantage of it I have bromeliads placed all over the trunk of it & a birdbath sits beneath in a subtropical garden & it’s teaming with wildlife I could sit & stare at it all day long & I probably will when I retire, I do hope you get the enjoyment from your tree that mine has given to me.

    2. I am a regular visitor from the uk. My friend’s leopard tree looked bare and dead last year, in December, whereas its companion tree nearby was fine. However, this year the tree is back in full leaf and looks healthy. I nicknamed this species the “shower tree” some years ago, as I noticed that after rain, during an otherwise dry summer spell, the rainbow lorikeets love bathing in the leaves, opening their wings to catch water drops, and even turning upside down, all very noisy together. A fun sight. I have had difficulty identifying this tree as I looked it up under Australian species!

  22. Hi,

    We have a Leapord Tree at the front of our house, lovely tree in a great spot. When we had our driveway redone they must have ripped up part of its root system (3 years ag0) and the tree has never been the same. It has quite a few dead branches and right now its lost all of its leaves (just dropped a heap of seeds everywhere) where every other Leopard Tree in our neighbourhood is still lush & green (Chapel Hill). Any advice as to how we might prune / nurse the tree back to good health would be appreciated.



    1. Hi Bruce. The first thing to assess is whether the tree is structurally sound. I’ve seen more leopard trees totally fail (ie uproot) than any other species, and pruning their roots in the structural root zone (SRZ) will have added to the inherent weakness of the tree to stay upright.

      I suggest you contact me for an assessment.

  23. Hi David,
    I am looking to transplant a well established Leopard tree on the Sunshine Coast that is currently well positioned to cause disaster to driveways, footings and pipes, its around 6-7 metres tall and there are exposed roots that extend beyond the tree line, they dont appear to be too large in diameter. My questions are:
    1. will the tree cope with canopy trimming to allow easier transporting?
    2. How big is the root system, im more concerned about what i can’t see than what i can see.
    3. Will the tree survive root trimming and transplanting?

    Thanks in advance, appreciate your article.

    1. Hello David,

      Ive just read the message from Lee about transplanting his Leopard tree. We have a beautiful tree that is coming down tomorrow as it is in the path of a new extension we r building. People want to just rip it out saying it won’t survive a transplant but i want to try and save it. It’s about 12 metres and about 15 years old. Can u offer any advice. Love to hear from u!
      Thanks heaps.

    2. Hi Lee. Leopard trees are shallow rooting and tend to uproot in storms. They shouldn’t be transplanted as root pruning will add to the already considerable risk of the tree failing.

  24. Hi we have a rather large leopard tree recently it is splitting and shedding its bark it is baron of leaves and appears stressed.just wondering if you know if it could be dying off.We are at Donnybrook and have been told by a neighbour that they once had one and the bark showed similar signs of stress however it was ladened with leaves and after some heavy rain the big branches split from the trunk falling across a shed.We were thinking it might be best to chop it down if this is the case.

    1. Hi Esmay. It’s very unusual for individual branches of a leopard tree to fail. I suggest it may have been a soil-borne fungal infection so it’s possible it’s in your area. Since yours is splitting you will most likely need tree removal.

  25. Hi David, We are thinking of moving onto acreage in the Lockyer Valley and love the Leopard tree. We wish to plant maybe a few but what to know if they have an affect on asthma or sinus sufferers and how far from pipes or the house should we plant them. Your advice would be very much appreciated.

    Barb Wright.

    1. Hi Barb. For such a strong, robust tree their roots are surprisingly shallow. Still, I wouldn’t plant them within 20m of your house. Exactly how far depends on your soil type.

      I haven’t heard of any problems with allergies to the tree.

  26. Hi David, I love my leopard tree, but I have root problems extending into toilet pipes. I am in Caboolture and was wondering if you come up this way and what would be an approximate price for removal of the tree? From reading your article I think this is my best option for the future of my property. Thank you for any help you can give.

  27. Hi we have a leopard tree approx 6 metres from our house. We want to keep the tree but are concerned about 2 large roots from it going under our house. We’ve had two people look at it. One said to prune the height and remove the roots the second not to prune the height and only remove a small part of the root near the house and put in a root barrier. Would you agree with the second advice rather than the first? Margie

    1. Hi Margie. Yes, the second person advised you correctly. It’s very difficult to prune a leopard tree for height without internodal pruning which would lead to more problems later.

      1. Thanks so much for your response. The tree is about 6 metres from the house and there are two roots running across the lawn and under the house. Would it be safe to cut them close to the house and put in a root barrier?


      2. Hi Margie. Due to liability issues I can’t say without taking measurements onsite. The two primary factors you are balancing are retaining stability for the tree and reducing moisture uptake by the tree from the soil near your foundations.

        Regarding the former you need to bear in mind that leopard trees are one of the most common species of tree to uproot in storms in Brisbane. For the latter the depth of root barrier installed is relevant also. It’s the moisture uptake of the roots that leads to soil volume reduction that causes damage to foundations rather than the roots themselves.

        All that said, from what you’ve written it sounds like you’re on the right track so long as you have a professional on hand to assess the above factors.

    1. Hi Tom. I haven’t been able to find any evidence they are toxic. They aren’t listed in any of the usual places I would look (including a list of toxic plants and trees the Qld government publishes). It’s likely they are safe since so many seed pods get chewed up by dogs and cases of poisoning would be widely reported, but of course I can’t vouch for them.

      1. Hi David,
        Thank you for your very informative article. We had a horse property with Leopard Trees in various paddocks as shade trees. Horses used to relish the pods as crunchy snacks with no obvious I’ll effects.
        Can also vouch for the negatives. Have mature specimens on common property of a residential estate. The ground under the canopy is deviod of grass and pods present a mowing hazard. Large surface roots are a trip hazard.

  28. How can i get a Leopard Tree into Western Australia, i will even smuggle one in and pay any amount, want it for a bonsai tree

    1. David Taylor

      Ellenby Tree Farm in Gnangara sells them.

      It’s also not hard to have seeds and saplings imported to WA. There’s a DPI inspection that costs $50. Most large nurseries on the eastern seaboard will know the process and organise it for you.

  29. We currently have 4 leopard trees approx 5-6 metres from the house. We have had root problems in our toilets pipes, but now have our front paving on the verandah lifting and cracking and external brick work and gryprock cracking in the house. I suspect the trees are the problem with our on going drought conditions. Would appreciate your advise on how to poison these trees and get rid of them.

    1. David Taylor

      Hi Julie

      I’m afraid that’s typical of leopard trees. I suggest you have an arborist remove them for you. I’m happy to do so if you live in Brisbane, just use the contact form on this site or phone me on 1800 tree dr.

      Please don’t poison them before removal. Dead trees are much more dangerous to climb and can make tree removal more expensive.

  30. Hi
    We have a leopard tree that is roughly 15-20metres high at the front of our house. It is in front of my sons bedroom, due to this I’m a little concerned of what may happen in the event of a severe QLD storm (I’m from Brisbane). I also find it constantly sheds a lot of leaves all over our front yard. I called an arborist to see if they can trim about 10metres off the height of the tree. They strongly advised trimming the leopard tree and said its best to leave it as is. If we wanted to trim so much off we should just remove it all together. Is this correct?

    1. Hi Carmel. You’ve been given very good advice. Due to the growth form of leopard trees they can’t be substantially pruned for height without destroying the structural integrity of the tree.

  31. Hi,

    My house (and importantly pool) are overlooked by a large leopard tree on council land.

    The tree has caused structural damage to both council pathways and my pool as well as rendering my pool now non-viable (shaded all the time so too cold to swim) and reducing the effectivity of my solar PV panels on my house.

    Needless to say I want the tree gone, but council keep telling me it’s a healthy tree and they won’t cut it down.

    I’m left with 2 options:

    1) Kill the tree illegally and cope with whatever penalty I face

    2) Move house and let it be someone else’s problem.

    Any advice? Can you tell me what the likely penalty would be for illegally tampering with a nuisance tree?

    Is there a sneaky way of resolving this undetected?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated


    1. Hi Adrian. I’d suggest you have an arborist prepare a report detailing the problem and ask BCC to pay for a root barrier.

  32. I live in unit in Kingston earlier this year I fought to get a huge leopard tree cut down it was hanging over my fence leaving a mess everywhere anyway it was cut down but what I would like to know is that I have a small branch of this tree growing at the back of me in the units by the fence anyway I can send this photo to you so you can tell me if it is the regrowth of the leopard tree or not somehow I don’t think so the leaves look different to your pictures please let me know couldn’t it growing again thanks heaps

    1. Hi Gill

      Their roots are strong and will grow far beyond the drip line of the tree. Have a look at some large leopard trees on footpaths to see how they break concrete.

      Regards, David.

  33. Hi
    We have a leopard tree on the verge out the front of our house. It has become a real nuisance as it keeps shedding its leaves. No sooner have the leaves grown back, the tree starts to shed them again. Do you think it may have a disease or be stressed? We would like to have someone look at it and give us some guidance with what to do. If it keeps constantly shedding we would like to have it removed. I am well aware of the problems we may come across as its on council property.
    It really is a hazard as the leaves shed onto our pavers and then become slippery.
    Would appreciate it if you could let me know what you think.

    1. Hi Annette,

      I’m sorry to say that leaf litter is typical of even a healthy leopard tree. You’re also likely to find your council is recalcitrant in removing it for you due to the expense.

      Nevertheless if you live in Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast we can assess it for you. Often we can report on structural faults or other issues that can sway councils to act.

  34. I have 2 12 year old leopard trees that have always been healthy trees. This spring however it appears to have some type of dieback affecting its outer branches. The main branches appear to be green but there is hardly any new leaf coming and I thought by now I should have the lovely spring foliage. Should I prune them back to the green wood. I live on the Darling Downs at Jandowae and would like some advice. Thanks Barb Rathmellarerea

    1. Hi Barb

      The first thing to check is the way the leaves are dying back. If they are being skeletonized, with the leaflets missing but the petiole is intact then you have an insect problem. If not I’d look at fertilizing the tree.

      The only pruning I’d consider is to remove dead, damaged and crossed branches (the latter being typical of the awry leopard tree growth form) unless the tree is diseased.



  35. Anne-Mari Gavin

    Can you please tell me if the seeds are safe to eat by parrots.
    I do not want to kill my babies, but the seeds look like good toys for them.
    Your help truly appreciates.
    Kind regards

    1. Hi, Anne-Marie. It’s not listed as toxic on any of the usual lists but I can’t guarantee your pet’s safety of course.

  36. Hi David, I have a 15 – 20 metre Leopard tree hanging over my pool, the neighbours pool and perched above a retaining wall. We applied to have it chopped down but were denied on the basis that it was such a perfect specimen. The council quoted a 1960’s NSW (I’m in Brisbane) case in which the magistrate states ‘a little extra garden care is not too excessive to maintain the street appeal of the neighbour hood. To say I was a little peeved is an understatement. The tree is beautiful and in the right situation I love the Leopard tree but this one almost makes us want to move. It drops debris into the pools and garden beds all year round. If it’s not flowers it’s bark, or if it’s not the pods it’s the leaves or flower stems. So my solution, prune the hell out of it so we can control it. Is there a market in Brisbane for the wood?

    Thanks for the above article, it was very informative and interesting.


    1. That’s a pretty ridiculous decision from council. I suggest you have another arborist or me give them a phone call for you. I’ve found they tend to accept common sense when I put the facts to them from a professional point of view. Further, the way you are pruning it probably means it now has no value to your neighbourhood unless you know what you are doing: it’s probably not a perfect specimen anymore. It’s always best to call an arborist in before talking to the council, by the way.

      Sorry, the cost of processing the trees’ trunk leaves little room to make money from the timber. It’s not a commercial part of our business, just part of our philosophy to be involved in the whole life of trees and to maximise their use. It also helps to retain the carbon they have captured in their life which is good for the environment.

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