New Weed in Town

New Weed in Town

Mickey Mouse Plant

Mickey Mouse Plant (Ochna serrulata) is a native of South Africa which produces 5-6 berries per flower head. It has been widely planted as an ornamental in our area. Unfortunately an insidious invader hides behind the cute common name. The name refers to the black fruit which could be mistaken for Mickey Mouse ears. The fruit is popular with all frugivorous birds - honeyeaters, currawongs, pigeons, etc. A small bush can produce hundreds of seeds and most geminate. They throw down a root system so tenacious that even a small seeding is difficult to hand-pull. Ochna is most commonly found in full sun but happily grows under canopy. It is a serious threat to biodiversity since it can become dominant in the shrub layer in a natural forest and has done so on some local private properties. There are 3 species of moth caterpillar known to eat plants of the family Ochnaceae in Australia but they don’t seem to like this plant. [Photos courtesy of NSW DPI]


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