Tree Lucerne or Tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis)

Photo: (c) Forest & Kim Starr

Family: Fabaceae

Growth Habit: Tall growing woody, multi-stemmed, shrub or small tree up to 6 m. With grey-green leaves on a spreading canopy with drooping branches.

Type of Plant: Evergreen woody shrub.

Flowers: White, honey scented pea flowers in late winter to early spring.

Photo: (c) Forest & Kim Starr

Fruit/Seed: Small black or brown, hard coated seeds are produced in seed pods that grow to 5 cm long.

Dispersal: When mature the black seed pods explode in summer throwing the seeds some metres from the parent plant. Seeds are spread further by animals, ants and water.

Status: Tree Lucerne is not a declared weed in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Each tree produces prolific amounts or seed. The hard seed coat of the seeds allow them to remain viable, stored in the soil for many, many years.
  • One or two plants in an area can quickly become hundreds if the soil stored seed is stimulated to germinate by fire or soil disturbance.
  • With high growth rates, dense canopies and the ability to produce enormous amounts of seed, Tree Lucerne is able to dominate local native vegetation. It has become a weed of bushlands and roadside verges.
  • Tree Lucerne is valued as a fodder plant for grazing farm animals because it contains high levels of essential nitrogen. It is often used to supplement nitrogen poor winter feeds such as grass hay. Tree Lucerne has been grown in duel purpose fodder and wind break plantings.
  • Tree Lucerne has been used successfully to fix nitrogen in degraded soils.

For further information on Tree Lucerne contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania, or Forestry Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • Grubbing. Remove manually when soil is wet. This is best for seedlings and small bushes.
  • Herbicide. Glyphosate or triclopyr + picloram can be applied to larger bushes using the foliar spray and cut stump methods.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.