Dade Native Plant Workshop

Enthusiastic folks who wish to learn how to identify South Florida's wild plants

Hello, can you please help me ID this tree, thanks. This was a cutting from a tree that is pretty tall from what I'm told, and a very thick trunk. Very fragrant flowers, white in color.

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Looks like Lysiloma latisiliquum (Wild Tamarind). A large tree, native to south Florida, and found in rockland hammocks. It can be identified by its bipinnately compound leaves compined with the foliaceous stipule (the ear like bracts at the base of the leaf). Steve W.
I thought it was some sort of Acacia. But after looking at the pictures of wild tamarind in the Plant Creations website, I believe you nailed it. Thank You.
You got everything you asked for from Steve, but I'll offer something else that may be useful to you: another local tree easily confused with your native Lysiloma is Leucaena leucocephala, commonly called leadwood or lead tree. Leucaena is an invasive exotic from south of the U.S., it is a common pest in south Florida, and has been nominated as one of the world's 100 worst weeds (try this link for more on that: ).

Lead tree never has the leaf-like stipules at the base of its leaves that wild tamarind does (as shown in your photos), though I have to say that Lysiloma often drops them, so if they are absent, you have to look for other clues. Leucaena's leaflets fold up after sunset, something I have never seen a Lysiloma do. The leaves of the exotic also have more pinnae than the native Lysiloma. Leucaena usually has 4 to 9 pairs of pinnae with 13 to 21 pairs of leaflets per pinna. Lysiloma has fewer pinnae, usually has only 3 to 4 pairs, and 10 to 20 leaflets per pinna.

Leucaena saplings have trunks that are nearly as round as a broomstick, but Lysiloma saplings typically form two or three hefty vertical ridges; it looks like the tree is forming buttresses on the lower trunk but they seem to become less obvious as the trees age.

Lysiloma forms short, wide papery pods with comparatively small, inconspicuous seeds; while Leucaena's pods are longer, thicker, and narrower, and the seeds are more numerous, larger and much more conspicuous. Though there is obviously some overlap between these two, there are enough diagnostic characteristics to compare that it should be easy to distinguish between them.

More than you asked for, and maybe more than you really want to know, but it was easily cut and pasted from an e-mail I wrote to someone in the Bahamas who was trying to tell the two apart. So, take it or leave it.
I will definitely take it and all the help I can get. Thank you very much.

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