- Ochna – From the Greek name for a wild pear whose leaves the Ochna’s leaves are said to resemble.
- serrulata – Finely toothed referring to the finely serrated leaf margins.
Common Names: Carnival bush, Mickey-mouse bush, small-leafed plane (Eng), fynblaarrooihout (Afr), sifubasenkhala (Swa) and umbovu (Zul).
FSA Number: 479.1
Size: 1.5 – 3 m by 1 – 2 m (- 3m)
- Showy, yellow flowers with 5 spreading petals, 2 cm across.
- Borne singularly (occasionally paired) on short (1cm) stalks in the leaf axils.
- The tip of the stigma is split into 5.
- The sepals turn red when the petals drop.
Flowering Months: Sep – Nov.
Fragrance: Sweetly scented.
- Semi-deciduous to evergreen.
- Simple, small leaves are narrowly elliptic (1 – 5 by .5 – 1 cm).
- Leaves are alternately arranged along branches.
- Margin is very finely toothed, dark green with prominent venation.
- New leaves are an attractive coppery to red bronze.
Thorns: No thorns.
- 1 to 6 green ripening to black pea-sized round fleshy fruit attached to a red, swollen calyx.
- The black fruit with the red calyx and sepals give rise to the common name of ‘Mickey Mouse bush’.
In the Garden:
- A very ornamental garden shrub, deserves a prime spot in all, especially small, gardens.
- Its bright yellow flowers, red calyx and sepals with black fruit give colour to a garden.
- Will happily grow beneath other tree canopies.
- May safely be planted close to walls and paving.
- Plants do grow slowly initially, but start flowering when still young.
- Fruits attract fruit eating birds into the garden.
Soil Needs: Grows in most soils.
- A low maintenance garden shrub.
- Plant in a well composted soil, mulch, feed and water regularly for good results.
- Prune lightly to shape and give body.
- If exposed protect from cold when young.
Water Requirements: Drought hardy.
Light Requirements: Full sun or partial shade.
Roots: The roots are not aggressive.
- The fruit are eaten by many garden birds..
- Used by insectivorous birds for foraging and gleaning.
- Bees and butterflies visit the flowers
- Ochna serrulata is host to the larva of the Karkloof Emperor and Marieps Emperor, unfortunately neither is found in Gauteng.
- It is also larval host plant to some moth species.
Medicinal: Used to treat infections and gangrenous rectitis in traditional medicine.
Poisonous: Not poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- Has been grown as a garden shrub in the UK since 1820.
- Is an invasive pest in Australia and Hawaii.
- It often gets attractive galls with narrow overlapping pinkish scales that resemble flowers.
- Occurs along the southern WC, EC, KZN, Swa, M and L.
- This lovely shrub is endemic to southern Africa.
- Grasslands, fynbos and savanna-bushveld.
- Grows naturally at forest margins, in grasslands, in scrub forest and on rocky outcrops, from the coast to 1 800m.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2018.