Weed of the Month September 2023: Ochna (Ochna Serrulata)

Photographer: Terry Inkson, taken from NSW WeedWise

Introduced as a hardy garden plant from South Africa, Ochna (nick-named Mickey Mouse plant) produces masses of fruit which are irresistible to our local birds.

Spreading rapidly throughout bushland and rainforest areas in the Hastings, Ochna crowds out native plants, competes for resources, forms dense infestations, and pops up in your garden uninvited!
Photo: Wendy Gibney NSW DPI, taken from NSW WeedWise

This 1-3m high shrub is in flower through August and September, producing pale yellow flowers which drop away to reveal a small green berry surrounded by bright red sepals. The berry turns black when ripe, which reveals its other common name, Mickey Mouse bush.

Ochna’s glossy green leaves are 3-8cm long but only 2cm wide, with fine serrations along the leaf edges. It has bronze to brown bark which is dotted with tiny lumps. Ochna plants quickly develop a large taproot as seedlings, improving its ability to survive long dry periods. This taproot is kinked and snaps easily just below ground level when hand-pulled, leading to a mass of re-sprouting stems.

Hardier than most woody weeds, Ochna requires specific herbicides or special techniques to control properly, so please contact Council’s Biosecurity Officer for advice on control.

Refer to NSW WeedWise for further information.

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