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Libidibia ferrea


Libidibia ferrea (Mart. ex Tul.) L. P. Queiroz

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Caesalpinia ferrea Mart. ex Tul.
Common Name: Leopard Tree, Brazilian Ironwood


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Medium (16m-30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 15 m to 20 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 20 m


Native Distribution Eastern Brazil
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Flowers Bright yellow flowers have red spots on the upper petals. 
Fruit Woody, elliptic to oblong in shape.
Others - Plant Morphology A medium-sized tree with an umbrella-shaped, relatively flat-topped crown of tiny, feathery compound leaves. Fairly open crown but provides surprisingly dense shade. The highlight of the tree is the trunk - which has smooth, light grey to ivory bark, mottled with brown or dark grey patches, hence the common name of Leopard Tree. The bark peels off in batches with age, adding to the appeal.
Cultivation Propagated from seeds. Seeds must be scarified in order to germinate. Fairly drought resistant when established but still requires regular watering.
Ethnobotanical Uses Cultural / Religious: Heritage Tree: There are currently 2 individuals of Libidibia ferrea listed as Heritage Tree in Singapore. One can be found in Esplanade Park while the other in Mount Emily Park. To find out more about these trees, please visit the Heritage Tree Register.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Trunk, Fragrant
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Shade Providing Tree / Palm, General

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought


Foliage Retention Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Compound
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Fluted
Mature Bark Texture Smooth, Peeling / Flaking / Papery

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Inflorescence Type Raceme

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown

Image Repository



Master ID 1474
Species ID 2767
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 21 December 2021.