Peltata is a medium-sized tree with smooth greyish coloured bark. Its younger stems are hollow and bear prominent leaf scars. Its very large leaves (30-60 cm long and wide) are borne on long thick stalks and have 7-11 lobes. These leaves have dark green upper surfaces, while their undersides are densely covered in whitish hairs. Separate male and female flower clusters are borne on different trees. The male flower clusters consist of 15-25 elongated yellow flower spikes (2.5-6 cm long). The female flower clusters consist of 2-6 elongated greenish or greyish-green flower spikes (3-9 cm long).
These species are sparingly naturalised in northern Queensland. Also naturalised in tropical Africa, tropical Asia, and on some Pacific islands (e.g. French Polynesia and Hawaii). (peltata) and in Northern NSW/South East QLD (palmata)
A potential weed of rainforests gaps and margins, closed forests, riparian vegetation, gullies, roadsides, disturbed sites and waste areas. In its native range it is a pioneer species that grows in wetter areas, particularly in canopy gaps where it may become the dominant species. A weed of forests in a number of countries. Plants are not tolerant of shade and shaded plants do not survive.
A medium-sized tree growing 6-20 m tall.
Trumpet tree (Cecropia peltata) has occasionally been grown as a garden ornamental in northern Australia and has recently become locally naturalised in the Mission Beach-El Arish area in northern Queensland. This species is thought to have the potential to invade rainforest ecosystems in northern Queensland, possibly causing serious damage to our natural forests. Trumpet tree (Cecropia peltata) is a pioneer species in wetter tropical areas in its native range, commonly growing in canopy gaps in rainforests where it may become the dominant species. It is most likely to be found in similar habitats in northern Australia, as well as in riparian areas, disturbed sites and remnant patches of dry rainforest.
Trumpet tree (Cecropia peltata) is a very significant weed of forests in a number of other countries. Because of this, it has been listed in the Global Invasive Species Database, and is regarded to be among the top 100 of the world's worst invasive alien species. It is a particular problem because of its ability to quickly occupy gaps and form dense stands in natural vegetation, especially after natural or artificial disturbance events (e.g. cyclones).
The younger stems are hollow and bear prominent leaf scars, while the older trunks are covered in relatively smooth grey bark.
The alternately arranged leaves are very large and borne on long thick stalks (i.e. petioles), which are attached to the underside of the leaf blade (i.e. the leaves are peltate). The leaf blades (30-60 cm long and 30-60 cm wide) have 7-11 lobes that spread outward from the same point like the fingers of a hand (i.e. they are palmately-lobed). These lobes have rounded or shortly-pointed tips (i.e. obtuse or abruptly acute apices) and are divided less than halfway to the base of the leaf blade. The leaves have dark green upper surfaces with a rough surface texture (i.e. they are scabrous), while their undersides are densely covered in whitish hairs (i.e. tomentose).
Separate male and female flower clusters are borne on different trees (i.e. this species is dioecious). The male flower clusters (i.e. staminate inflorescences) consist of numerous (15-25) elongated flower spikes that spread outwards from the same point (i.e. they are umbellate). Each of these flower spikes (2.5-6 cm long) has hundreds of tiny yellow flowers with two stamens. The female flower clusters (i.e. pistillate inflorescences) consist of 2-6 elongated flower spikes that spread outwards from the same point (i.e. they are also umbellate). These flower spikes (3-9 cm long) consists of hundreds of greenish or greyish-green flowers, each with an ovary topped with a style and stigma. Both types of flower clusters are initally enclosed in a bract. Flowering can occur throughout the year, but peaks during the early part of the wet season.
The tiny fleshy fruit are greyish-green or pale yellowish in colour, and become fused together on a fleshy stalk (i.e. they form a syncarp). Each of the tiny fruit contains a single brown seed about 2 mm long.
This species only reproduces by seed, but will re-shoot (i.e. coppice) following cutting.
The seeds are mainly spread by birds, bats and other animals that eat the fleshy fruit.
Trumpet tree (Cecropia peltata) is very similar to closely related species, such as Cecropia peltata, which may also be present in cultivation in Australia. These two species can be distinguished by the following differences:
■Cecropia peltata has leaf blades with lobes that are divided between a third and halfway to the base. Its male flower clusters usually consist of 15-25 flower spikes and its female flower spikes are relatively small (3-9 cm long).
■Cecropia peltata has leaf blades with lobes that are divided more than halfway to the base. Its male flower clusters usually consist of only 3-9 flower spikes and its female flower spikes are relatively large (12-20 cm long).
Leaves can be confused with Ricepaper Plant, Tetrapanax papyrifer. Cecropia species are closely related and may be part of a 'complex' of taxa .