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Albizia procera (Family Fabaceae)

Forest siris, whirte siris, safed siris, weru, brown albizia


Widely distributed from India through South-east Asia to Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. In Australia it is most common in coastal areas of north-eastern Queensland. It also occurs in the Kimberley region of north-western Australia. In Australia its latitudinal range is 10-21o S and it is mainly found from near sea level to 250 m. (QLD, WA)


A moderately fast-growing, semi-deciduous, small tree, typically 7-15 m tall but sometimes reaching 30 m. The bark is smooth, pale grey-green to brown with horizontal grooves. The compound leaves have 3-5 pairs of pinnae and 6-12 pairs of leaflets. The leaf stalk is 5-12 cm long with a large brown gland near the base. The flowers are delicately perfumed, white or greenish white in small 15-30 flowered heads making up a large terminal inflorescence. Flowering in Australia is from March - May and the fruits mature July - October. The fruit is a reddish to mid-brown pod, 10-25 cm long and 2-3 cm wide with distinctive long points at both ends. After leaf fall the pods stay hanging on the tree where they knock together in the wind, giving rise to the popular name 'women's tongues'. Each pod contains 6-12 brown seeds. There are about 17 000 viable seeds per kilogram. The seeds germinate readily without treatment when fresh but stored seeds require pre-treatment with boiling water to promote germination.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Its distribution is in frost-free, hot humid and sub-humid zones. Mean annual rainfall is mainly 1000-1750 mm with a strong summer maximum. Queensland occurrences are principally in the foothills and coastal lowlands on shallow, sandy or loamy soils of low to medium fertility derived from basalts, granites or shales. In the west it occurs on sandstone plateaux overlying basalt. It is found mainly in woodland, open-woodland and open-forest dominated by eucalypts including E. intermedia, E.pellita, E. tereticornis and E. tessellaris. In the west it is co-dominant in low open-forest with E. miniata and E. polycarpa.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

It has a large amount of non-durable yellow-white sapwood. The heartwood is hard, heavy, pale or dark brown with bands resembling walnut. It is straight-grained and works easily. It has been used for furniture, general construction, packing cases, poles and house posts. It coppices vigorously and the wood makes excellent charcoal and fuelwood. The leaves are not used as forage in Australia but in India they are considered good cattle feed. This is a useful tree for farm and amenity planting, light shade, firebreaks and for rehabilitation of eroded and degraded soils. It has the potential to become a weed in some environments.

Other Comments:

Albizia procera was described in 1844 by George Bentham, one of the greatest English botanists. His seven volume 'Flora Australiensis' (1863-1878) was a major contribution to Australian botany. The generic name honours the 18th century Italian naturalist Fillipo de Albizzi; the species name is from the Latin procerus = tall or slender, referring to the height and form this species may reach.

Further Reading:

Doran, J.C. and Turnbull, J.W. (eds.) 1997. Australian trees and shrubs; species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. ACIAR Monograph no. 24. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 384p.

Hearne, D.A. 1975. Trees for Darwin and northern Australia. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. 130p.

Verdcourt, B. 1979. A manual of New Guinea legumes. Botanical Bulletin no. 11. Division of Botany, Office of Forests.

Topics: Climatic zones Soils Vegetation types Fodder Firewood Timber Germination Invasive species/Weeds


Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy S. Searle.

Sponsored by:

Suzette Searle/ACIAR


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