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Leucaena retusa (Goldenball leadtree)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Leucaena retusa

Leucaena retusa Benth.

Goldenball leadtree, Littleleaf leadtree, Little leucaena, Lemonball, Wahoo tree

Fabaceae (Pea Family)


USDA Symbol: LERE5

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Evergreen, slender shrub or small tree with many showy balls of golden-yellow flowers throughout spring and summer. Little-leaf leadtree or goldenball leadtree is a small, multi-trunked tree or large shrub,12-15 ft. tall, which can reach 25 ft. Airy, light-green foliage occurs on brittle stems. Bark is flaky and cinnamon-colored. Sweet-smelling flowers occur in 1 in., yellow-orange globes and will appear after every rain from summer through fall.

This attractive, small tree is sometimes cultivated in warm regions for the showy yellow flowers, conspicuous pods, and evergreen foliage. It is a good browse plant for cattle.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate
Size Notes: 12-24
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Blue
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


Native Distribution: In TX, Edwards Plateau w. to Davis & Chisos Mts.; also n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Rocky, limestone areas; dry canyons. Western Edwards Plateau. Well-drained loam, sand, clay, limestone, caliche.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry, rocky, limestone or igneous soils. Rocky, Limestone-based, Caliche type, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: Goldenball lead-tree is a gorgeous small tree that grows well in rocky soil. The yellow puffball flowers exude a sweet aroma. Its wood is rather weak and has been known to snap in strong winds. Open enough that sun-loving species can bloom underneath.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Easily grown from fresh seed. Semi-hardwood cuttings in summer will root.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Wrights Nursery - Briggs, TX
Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1097 Collected 2007-08-16 in Brewster County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Leucaena retusa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Leucaena retusa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Leucaena retusa


Record Modified: 2015-11-11
Research By: TWC Staff

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