Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Planted for its ornamental, shade and cattle fodder value in Australia, Rosewood (Tipuana tipu) has become a threat by escaping street and garden plantings into the natural environment.
  • It is drought resistant and frost tolerant with the potential to grow in most conditions, allowing it to invade native vegetation.
  • It seeds and germinates prolifically. Preventing its spread will protect both natural and other areas.
  • Poorly performed control efforts can spread or worsen the problem.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Rosewood (Tipuana tipu) is a tree growing up to 10 m in height in Australia, with a main trunk and branches forming a distinct elevated crown. It has a large canopy cover, often greater than its height, and is consequently favoured as a shade tree. It has reddish-brown fissured bark, and opposite leaves along the leaf stalk. Leaves are approximately 30-50 mm long by 12-20 mm wide, with 'buttock-shaped' tips.

The bright yellow flowers (up to 22 mm in diameter) occur in leaf-less racemes (an inflorescence of stalked flowers with the youngest at the top).

The distinctive winged fruit is sometimes referred to as a 'helicopter', due to its spinning propeller-like action as it falls. The spin is created by the swollen base, which contains one to three seeds. Depending on the wind velocity and distance above the ground, Rosewood seeds can be carried considerable distances away from the parent plant (CRC 2003).

Distinguishing features of Rosewood are its oval-shaped leaves with the 'buttock-shaped' tip, yellow flowers with larger outer petals and smaller inner petals, and a leaf stalk approximately 15-20 mm long (CRC 2003).

For further information and assistance with identification of Rosewood contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Rosewood invades disturbed sites such as roadsides and creek banks, and also grows in woodland and open grassland areas where grazing is absent. Rosewood will survive in temperatures down to -6.5 oC, and is well able to resist frost conditions. It invades disturbed sites such as roadsides and creek banks, and also grows in woodland and open grassland where grazing is absent (CRC 2003).

Are there similar species?

When sterile Rosewood resembles Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust) but the flowers and fruits are totally different (FAO 2007).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Rosewood is on the Alert List for Environmental Weeds, a list of 28 non-native plants that threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage. Although only in the early stages of establishment, these weeds have the potential to seriously damage Australia's ecosystems (CRC 2003).

Native ecosystems: Rosewood is reported as being invasive, noxious and naturalised in South Africa. With similar climate and soils to South Africa, Australia needs to be concerned with the potential of the tree to become more widespread. It can tolerate saline soils, is tolerant of frost once it is established, with temperatures down to -4 oC being no problem. These trees cope with drought and are adaptable to different seasons. Its ability to spread rapidly into woodlands, firebreaks, tracks, roadsides and other open areas has the potential to affect fire regimes and natural ecosystems. This species has aggressive roots which make it problematic for urban plantings. For example, the concentrated presence of Rosewood plants along a watercourse in Queensland has caused problems by clogging drains with their roots, leaves and seeds, resulting in flooding (CRC 2003; Gardening Australia 2007).

How does it spread?

The single greatest reason for Rosewood's spread is the propagation and planting of the tree by householders and pastoralists. Its prolific seed capability (up to 10 000 seeds per plant), coupled with wind and water dispersal mechanisms (when near waterways), allows it to establish widely. The winged seed may travel a substantial distance from the tree with its helicopter style movement, and the decomposed seed then spirals down into the ground to become established. The fast growth of the seedling allows it to establish quickly, up to 4 m in its first two years of growth (CRC 2003).

What is its history in Australia?

Rosewood has been planted all over the world as an ornamental street tree and garden plant. It is also valued as a shade tree, a source of 'Rosewood' timber and, in some circumstances, fodder for stock. In Australia it was originally planted in the 1970s in Queensland's suburban gardens and streets. It is popular in the Queensland pastoral industry for fattening stock during the winter period, and for its shade value (CRC 2003).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Expert advice from local weed agencies must be sought before control or eradication of Rosewood is attempted. Control effort that is poorly performed or not followed up can help spread the weed and worsen the problem. Small infestations can be easily eradicated if they are detected early but an ongoing commitment is needed to ensure new infestations do not establish (CRC 2003).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Rosewood flowers over the spring-summer period, and goes to seed in summer and early autumn. Germination is highest in winter, when ample water is available. The plant can be fully or semi-deciduous in the winter period, depending on water availability and temperature (CRC 2003).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Rosewood has been planted in nearly all Australian states but has become invasive in north eastern New South Wales and many regions of Queensland, particularly Brisbane, south-eastern Queensland and further north to Rockhampton (CRC 2003).

Where does it originate?

Rosewood is native to southern Bolivia, northern Argentina, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. In its native range in South America the plant grows in a subtropical environment, with generally warm temperatures year round (CRC 2003).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?

Not declared in any state or territory

Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Tipuana tipu

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Machaerium tipu Benth.
  • Tipuana speciosa Benth.
  • Tipuana tipa Lillo
  • Tipuana tipu (Benth.) Lillo

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Tipu Tree, Tipuana Tree, Pride of Bolivia, Racehorse Tree

Other Management Resources

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study