Indirect estimates of leaf area from measurements with three commercially available instruments (DEMON, LAI-2000 and Sunfleck Ceptometer) were compared with directly measured areas of individual Retama sphaerocarpa bushes. The three indirect methods gave good estimates of the total surface area of individual bushes. For the DEMON, the method of log-linear averaging of transmitted radiation gave estimates closer to directly measured surface area than the method of averaging transmission linearly. For the LAI-2000, estimated surface area index multiplied by canopy projected area gave the best agreement with directly measured values. For measurements with the Sunfleck Ceptometer, values of surface area estimated from the transmission of photosynthetic quantum flux density, without correcting for diffuse radiation, gave the best agreement with directly measured values. Surface areas estimated by the three instruments were not significantly different from directly measured total (leaf + branch + stem) surface areas. Leaf surface area could be calculated from estimated total surface area minus directly measured branch surface area. Measured branch surface area was linearly related to canopy projected area.