Caesalpinia ferrea Mart. ex Tul.

Etymology Genus After Andreas Caesalpini, a 16th Italian botanist and physician to Pope Clement VIII
Species Iron; referring to the hard wood
Family Fabaceae
Synonyms Libidibia ferrea (Mart. ex Tul.) L. P. Queiroz
Common Names Leopard Tree, Brazilian Ironwood, Pau Ferro
Status Exotic: Cultivated Only
Form Tree
Native Distribution Brazil


Caesalpinia ferrea can be identified very easily from its binnate leaves and peeling bark which gives different shades of brown (hence its common name the Leopard Tree). It is not reliable to look out for its foliage form as many that I have seen are scrawny-looking (probably because they are still young and that it is slow-growing species).

Interesting Facts:

The wood of the Leopard Tree is so heavy and dense that a piece of the seasoned wood can sink in water (NParks, 2009)!

The Leopard Tree in Punggol Park.

The distinctive peeling bark showing different shades.

Leaves are bipinnately compounded.

Close-up of the leaflets, showing the venations.


NParks. (2009) Trees of Our Garden City: A Guide to the Common Trees of Singapore. 2nd Edition. National Parks Board, Singapore. 382 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-06-02 / Modified: 2017-12-25