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African Tulip Tree

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The African Tulip Tree (Spathodea campanulata) is a fast growing evergreen to semi-deciduous tree, growing to 24m in height. It has broad, oval-shaped leaves with distinct veins and a deep, glossy green colour. Flowers are large orange-red in colour with yellow frilly edges, with seed capsules up to 20cm long. It is native to tropical Africa and is popular as an ornamental garden or street tree in northern New South Wales and Queensland due to its showy, red tulip-shaped flowers.

In recent years it has gained recognition overseas (mainly Brazil) and now here in Australia, as a potential threat to insects who visit the flower (particularly native stingless bees) through certain toxins in the nectar and pollen that are harmful to insects. Whilst studies have been undertaken overseas, there is currently no published data from Australia on the exact level of threat posed by the African tulip tree. Some experts are adamant that African tulip tree is an immediate threat to native bee populations whereas others believe that the impact is minimal.

Current Management Priorities

The African tulip tree is a restricted invasive plant under the Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014 and cannot be sold or traded there.

With regard to the New South Wales Biosecurity Act 2015, the tree is listed in the North Coast Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017-2022 - A2.1 North Coast LLS weed watch list.  This means that  the species has been identified as having a potential biosecurity risk to the region, however, it has not been subjected to a weed risk assessment just yet due to lack of appropriate information and research. The tree has, however, been nominated as a candidate for a weed risk assessment and it is expected that one will be completed in the near future.

Council weed management staff are currently mapping the extent of African tulip tree in our region and assessing its potential to spread. This information will enable us to develop a management plan based on the outcome of a completed regional weed risk assessment.

Any African tulip trees found in our managed bushland reserves will be removed as far is as practicable.

What can I do?

If you are concerned about the presence of African tulip tree on your property, you are welcome to contact Councils Biosecurity Officer. If you wish to remove African tulip tree please note that you do not require Council approval to remove it. The tree is on Councils Undesirable and Exempt tree species list.

Council Biosecurity Officer can be contacted via phone on (02) 6581 8111 or via email at council@pmhc.nsw.gov.au.

This page was last updated on: 17 June 2020