Yellow bells (Tecoma stans)

Yellow bells is a shrub or small tree originally introduced as an ornamental plant. It is a highly competitive weed of bushland and disturbed areas from Sydney north to north-western Western Australia.

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How does this weed affect you?

Yellow bells invades riparian areas, edges of rainforest and eucalypt forest, open woodlands, grasslands, waste areas, sand dunes, agricultural land and other disturbed areas.

It can form dense stands which strongly compete with other species and reduces habitat for native animals.

Although palatable to stock, it reduces feed quality, restricts access for stock and machinery and competes with orchard plantings

It has the potential to be a serious weed of much of tropical and subtropical Australia. 

What does it look like?

Yellow bells is a large shrub or much-branched small tree 3-8 m tall, rarely to 10 m tall.

Bark is initially green and smooth, but becomes light brown to pale grey and grooved with age.

Leaves are pinnate with 3-13 leaflets. Leaflets are hairless and up 2.5-10 cm long, with serrated edges.

Flowers are borne in several-flowered clusters at or near the stem tips. Petals are bright yellow, tubular and 3-5 cm long, with reddish lines in the throat.

Fruit are 10-30 cm long, linear, bean-like pods. Pods are initially green then ripen to brown.

Seeds are paper, winged and to about 2.2 cm long.

Where is it found?

Yellow bells is a native of tropical America.

It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in subtropical and tropical areas of the world. It has become naturalised in Australia, southern Asia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and some oceanic islands.

Yellow bells was introduced into Australia as an ornamental plant and was first recorded as naturalised in 1973 near Roma in Queensland.

It is now commonly naturalised from Sydney north to Exmouth in north-western Western Australia. However, it has also been recorded near Renmark in South Australia.

Isolated infestations occur in coastal and floodplain areas on the NSW North Coast. Scattered infestations are found in and around along the Tweed coast, Alstonville, Byron Bay, Ballina, Kyogle, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads and South West Rocks. A core infestation occurs in Lismore.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Yellow bells during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2023)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

  • Estimated distribution of Yellow bells in NSW (Map: NSW Noxious Weed Local Control Authorities, 2010)
    Map shows weed distribution and density estimated by local council weeds officers in 2010.

How does it spread?

Yellow bells primarily reproduces from seed. These are primarily wind-borne, but are also spread by water and dumping garden waste.

Plants can also sucker, especially if damaged.

Seedlings mostly germinate in spring and summer.

Early growth is relatively rapid, with growth of up to 1 m in height in the first year. The main growth period is from spring to autumn, but green foliage is present year-round.

Flowering and fruiting occur year-round, but are chiefly from spring to autumn.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Yellow bells prefers sunny conditions in sub-tropical and tropical climates, which are free of heavy frosts, have 700-1800 mm annual rainfall.

It prefers well-drained soils with a light texture.

It grows in riparian areas, edges of rainforest and eucalypt forest, open woodlands, grasslands, waste areas, sand dunes, agricultural land and other disturbed areas. It is also salt tolerant and is capable of becoming established in mangrove habitats.

References

Australia’s Virtual Herbarium: Tecoma stans. http://avh.ala.org.au

BioNET Invasive Plants factsheet: Tecoma stans (Yellow Bells). http://keys.lucidcentral.org

Floridata: Tecoma stans. http://www.floridata.com

Jordan, S. (2007). Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans). Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. 

Weeds Australia: Golden Bells (Tecoma stans). http://www.weeds.org.au

More information

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Control

The main methods of control are excluding plants from uninfested areas, physical removal of all plant parts, and herbicide application. Which method is appropriate depends on:

  • size and density of the infestation
  • accessibility
  • time and resources available
  • habitat infested.

Continued follow-up and re-treatment is essential for all control methods.

Physical control

Seedlings or small plants can be hand pulled in small-to-medium sized infestations, but the entire taproot must be removed to avoid regrowth.

Herbicide control

Spraying

This method is suitable for seedlings. Spray actively growing plants. Ensure that all of the foliage is covered in herbicide.

Basal barking

Basal barking can be used for plants with stems up to 5 cm in diameter at the base. Liberally spray the bark all the way around the stem from ground level to 30 cm high. Wet thoroughly to the point of runoff. Apply to dry stems as wet stems can repel the mixture. 

Cut stump method

Herbicide mix: Cut trunks or stems less than 15 cm above the ground. Apply herbicide to the cut and the sides of the stump immediately.

Gel herbicide: Cut stems horizontally preferably no higher than 10 cm above the ground. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm in diameter and 5 mm layer on stems more than 20 mm in diameter.

Stem inject

Gel herbicide: Use an axe or saw to make horizontal cuts 5-20 mm deep into the sapwood around trunk of each tree. Space the cuts evenly, no more than a 2- 4 cm gap between them. Apply a 5 mm layer of gel over the lower surface of teach cut.

Herbicide mix: Drill holes or make cuts (with an axe or saw)through the bark into the sapwood tissue in the trunk. Drill holes should be a maximum of 5 cm apart and cuts a maximum of 3 cm apart. The holes or cuts should be all the way around the trunk of the tree. Do not ringbark the tree. Apply the herbicide within 15 seconds of drilling the hole or cutting the trunk.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1.0 L in 50 L of water
Comments: Spray seedlings.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part per 1.5 parts of water
Comments: Stem injection or cut stem application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


Picloram 44.7 g/L + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump/stem injection application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


Triclopyr 240 g/L + Picloram 120 g/L (Access™ )
Rate: 1.0 L in 60 L of diesel (or biodiesel such as Biosafe).
Comments: Basal bark application for plants with stems up to 5 cm diameter at the base. Cut stump application for plants with a diameter up to or more than 5 cm at the base. Some root suckering may occur. See label for information about using biodiesel.
Withholding period: Nil
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Hunter Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Asset Protection)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
North Coast
Exclusion (eradication) zone: Clarence Valley LGA, Lord Howe Island, Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA. Core infestation (containment) zone: Ballina Shire LGA, Bellingen Shire LGA, Byron Shire LGA, Coffs Harbour City LGA, Kempsey Shire LGA, Kyogle Shire LGA, Lismore City LGA, Nambucca Valley LGA, Richmond Valley LGA, Tweed Shire LGA.
Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Containment)
Whole of region: Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. Exclusion zone: Notify local control authority if found. Land managers should eradicate the plant from the land and keep the land free of the plant. Core infestation: Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
North West Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Eradication)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should eradicate the plant from the land and keep the land free of the plant. A person should not deal with the plant, where dealings include but are not limited to buying, selling, growing, moving, carrying or releasing the plant. Notify local control authority if found.
Northern Tablelands Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Asset Protection)
Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Land managers should mitigate spread of the plant from their land. A person should not buy, sell, move, carry or release the plant into the environment. Land managers should reduce the impact of the plant on assets of high economic, environmental and/or social value.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfil the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2023