madras thorn

Pithecellobium dulce

Biosecurity Queensland must be contacted within 24 hours 13 25 23.
Biosecurity Queensland Must attend site before any control measure is administered, advice will be provided to the land holder at this time.
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.

Common names 
Also known as: Manila tamarind, monkey pod,
Flowering time 
Autumn- Winter
North, Central and South America
State declaration 
Category 2,3,4,5 - Must be reported to Biosecurity inspector or authorised person. Must not be distributed, moved, possessed or kept under your control.
Council declaration 
As per State Declaration
Known distribution 

Cultivated in north Queensland from Townsville to Cairns in North Queensland. Also in the Northern Territory around Darwin.


Drought and salt tolerant, and able to grow in poor soils


Shrub or small multi-stemmed tree to 20m tall

Madras thorn (Pithecellobium dulce ) is not yet naturalised in Australia, but is a serious weed elsewhere. It can grow in poor soils, is brackish water and in dry areas, forming dense thickets. It readily grows from seed and damage to roots causes suckering. Potentially invasive of open forests across the tropics.

Stem and leaves 

Young stems and branches have smooth or slightly rough bark with small white patches (lenticels). Spines (when present) are straight, short and stout, arranged in pairs at the base of leaves. Leaves are abruptly bipinnate with just 1 pair of pinnae and one pair of leaves per pinna (= 4 leaflets). Leaflets are ovate to obovate, 2-5 cm long and 1-3 cm wide, and are often variegated.

Flowers and fruits 

Flowers are white or cream and frangrant, arranged in globular heads c. 1 cm wide on short stalks. The heads are arranged in terminal or axillary panicles up to 30cm long. The petals are softy hairy. Pods are coiled and often twisted, green or slightly pinkish, and 1-2cm wide with c. 10 seeds. The seeds are black, shiny and c. 1cm long surrounded by an edible white pulp.

Reproduction and dispersal 

Reproduces by seed, dispersed by birds. Also reproduces from cuttings and root suckering.

Similar species 

The leaves superficially resemble those of Bauhinia species but these species have a 2-lobed leaf (not bipinnate). It is related to the horticultural ice-cream bean (Inga edulis) but this species has pinnate leaves with a winged rachis, and the pods are not coiled.