PEST: Ochna serrulata Mickey Mouse bush.
PEST: Ochna serrulata Mickey Mouse bush.

Pretty plant a real pest

OCHNA serrulata is native to southern Africa, was introduced to Australia in the early 1900s, and it has been widely planted in Australian gardens for its strikingly attractive yellow flowers, red sepals and black fruit.

Ochna is another example of an ornamental species escaping into bushland.

Ochna (ochna serrulata) is a significant environmental weed and is widely invasive in coastal regions of eastern Australia. It is most common in the coastal districts of southern and central Queensland, but is also becoming relatively common in the coastal districts of northern and central New South Wales.

It was also recently recorded in northern Queensland from being spread by southern vehicles and animals.


Ochna serrulata has invaded roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, rainforests, forest margins, riparian areas and dry sclerophyll forests. Seed is spread by water, animals, humans, in contaminated soil (earthmoving equipment, car tyres etc), and by garden waste dumping into bushland, where it forms dense thickets that are hard to remove, and competes with native plants


Ochna grows as a dense evergreen shrub 2 to 4 metres high with rough stems that is erect and woody up to about 1.5 m high.

Bark has numerous lenticels (corky spots) protruding outwardly.

Leaves are alternately arranged oblong to lanceolate shape, glossy green on both surfaces, slightly paler below, up to 5 cm long, narrow with finely serrated and wavy margins.

The root is an angled tap root that is easily broken when hand pulled, hence the plant easily re-shoots.

Flowers are bright yellow with five petals in winter. These petals fall off, leaving five sepals which turn scarlet red when the fruit appears.

Fruit are initially green, succulent green berries to 8mm across, in clusters of 4-6. Ripen to black in spring to summer. Each berry contains a single seed.


For young seedlings hand pulling is generally the most successful method of control. Take care not to break the tap root.

Larger individuals may need to be grubbed out with a mattock being careful to remove most of the long strong root.

Scrape and paint bark of larger shrubs with 50/50 water and herbicide.

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