Photo guide to weeds

Madras thorn (Pithecellobium dulce)

  • Photo of the Madras Thorn
    Madras thorn seed. (Photo: Gerald D Carr)
  • Photo of the Madras Thorn
    Madras thorn leaves, flowers and pods. (Photo: Gerald D. Carr)
  • Photo of the Madras Thorn with ruler for scale
    Madras thorn stem and thorns. (Photo: Paul Zborowski)
  • Photo of the Madras Thorn with hand showing scale
    Madras thorn variegated form. (Photo: Paul Zborowski)

Pest alert

If you have seen this plant, contact the Customer Service Centre .

General information

Madras thorn is mostly known to be restricted to gardens and is rare in Queensland. There is an opportunity to prevent madras thorn becoming a serious problem in Queensland. To do this, madras thorn must not be sold or grown as a garden ornamental anywhere in the state.

Biosecurity Queensland encourages people report this Class 1 pest plant and take actions to help stop the establishment, prevent the spread, and to control this pest.


Scientific name

Pithecellobium dulce

  • Attractive fast-growing tree that has been planted as an ornamental.
  • Grows up to 20m high.
  • Most specimens have a pair of short, sharp spines at the base of each leaf.
  • Flowers in small white heads, 1cm in diameter.
  • Mature seed pods are pinkish.
  • Produces many seeds.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Grows on poor soils in dry climates and along coastlines, including areas where its roots are in brackish or salt water.
  • Native to a large region of America, extending from southern California, through Mexico and Central America, into Columbia and Venezuela.
Life cycle
  • Propagation is by seed or cuttings.
  • Germination takes place in 1-2 days.
  • Spreads by seeds or cuttings.


  • Destructive weed that forms dense thickets.
  • Out-competes desirable native vegetation.


  • Invades pastures.
  • Potential to spread quickly across vast tracts of tropical and subtropical areas and become costly to agriculture and the environment.
  • The best form of weed control is prevention. Treat weed infestations when they are small - do not allow weeds to establish.
  • Ways to prevent weed spread
Declaration details
  • A declared Class 1 species under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002.
  • Not commonly present or established in Queensland and has the potential to cause impacts to whole or part of the State.
  • Introduction, keeping, releasing and supplying (including supplying things containing reproductive material of this pest) is not possible without a permit, for special purposes, issued by Biosecurity Queensland.

Last updated 28 March 2013