Umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla)

Umbrella trees grow up to 10 m tall and have large leathery leaves. They can compete with local native plants.


How does this weed affect you?

Umbrella trees invade national parks, remnant bushland, undisturbed forests and reserves. They are native to North Queensland but considered an environmental weed in NSW. They can outcompete local native plants. The roots of the trees can block pipes and damage infrastructure. 

What does it look like?

Umbrella trees often have multiple trunks and grow up to 10 m tall. They sometimes grow as an epiphyte on larger rainforest trees. They have large leaves on long stalks with leaflets that radiate outwards a bit like an umbrella..

Leaves are:

  • alternate along the stem
  • on stalks 15–40 cm long
  • made up of 7–16 leaflets radiating from the end of the leaf stalk, each leaflet is:
    • dark green, glossy and leathery
    • oval to oblong shaped with a pointed tip
    • usually smooth on the edges but sometimes toothed, lobed or hairy
    • usually 8–30 cm long and 4–8 cm wide, but much smaller on saplings.

Flowers are:

  • red
  • 1–2 cm in diameter
  • in clusters at the top of the plant
  • along several flowering branches up to 80 cm long that radiate from a central point
  • made up of 7–18 (usually 12) petals, each 3–5 mm long
  • present in autumn.

Fruit are:

  • dark red or purple
  • 3–5 mm long and up to 12 mm in diameter
  • ribbed
  • fleshy and contain a single seed.

Seeds are:

  • pale brown
  • up to 4 mm wide and 10 mm long
  • oval shaped.


  • Young trees have dark green stems with white spots and have leaf scars.
  • Older trees have greyish smooth bark.

Similar looking plants

Umbrella tree looks like dwarf umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola) which is smaller, (usually 3–4 m tall), and has greenish-yellow flowers.

Where is it found?

Umbrella tree is native to north Queensland, New Guinea and Java. It has become an environmental weed on the North Coast region of NSW and Southern Queensland. It is widely cultivated in gardens. 

What type of environment does it grow in?

Umbrella trees can grow in full sun or partial shade. They prefer well drained soils. The trees can grow in closed forests, rainforests, open woodlands, along waterways and in coastal areas.

How does it spread?

By seed

Seeds are mostly spread by birds and other animals that eat the fruit. Dried fruit and seeds float and are moved by water.


DAF (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) Queensland. (2020). Invasive plant fact sheet: Umbrella tree Schefflera actinophylla. The State of Queensland.

Harden, G. J., McDonald, W. J. F., & Williams, J. B. (2006). Rainforest trees and shrubs: a field guide to their identification. Gwen Harden Publishing. Nambucca Heads, NSW.

Identic Pty Ltd. and Lucid central (2016). Environmental Weeds of Australia Fact sheet: Schefflera actinophylla (Endl.) Harms. Retrieved 2022 from:

PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System). Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. Retrieved 19 March 2021 from:  

Richardson F.J., Richardson R.G. and Shepherd R.C.H. (2006).Weeds of the south-east an identification guide for Australia. (R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne)

More information

back to top


Successful weed control relies on follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings. Using a combination of control methods is usually more successful.

Physical removal

Very small seedlings can be pulled out in moist soft soil. Small trees may be dug out. 

Chemical control

Spot spraying

Apply herbicide mix to actively growing seedlings or small trees. Ensure that all of the foliage is covered with the herbicide mix.

Cut stump method

This method is suitable for larger trees. Cut the trunk, if there are multiple stems cut all of them close to the ground. Apply herbicide gel to the stumps within 15 seconds.

Stem injection

This method is also suitable for larger trees. Drill or make cuts into the trunk all the way around tree. For trees with multiple stems treat all of the upright stems close to the ground. Fill with herbicide within 15 seconds. 

Herbicide options

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

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part per 1.5 parts of water
Comments: Stem injection/cut stump application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL per 10 L of water
Comments: Foliar application for seedlings
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
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: 4 (previously group I), Disruptors of plant cell growth (Auxin mimics)
Resistance risk: Moderate

back to top

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 pest 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.

back to top

For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.

Reviewed 2014