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Ochna Serrulata - Mickey Mouse Plant

 

 

Ochna Serrulata.jpg 

Source: Sydney Weeds Committe

 

Habitat

Just about any overgrown garden in Lane Cove is likely to have seedlings of this tough invasive shrub. It grows up to 2 to 3 metres tall, has dark green, finely serrated leaves and a yellowish white stem. In spring it produces many yellow flowers which over summer gradually turn red with a black, bird-attracting berry in the centre.

Description

Ochna is reminiscent of privet in a number of ways - it came to Lane Cove as a hedge plant; even if cut down to the ground or pruned it resprouts vigorously in the form of multi-stemmed trunks; it readily invades bushland, crowding and shading out native vegetation; and its berries are a major food source for Currawongs which spread the plant all over the North Shore.

Currawongs originally migrated between Sydney and the Blue Mountains each year but, encouraged in the last 20 years by an abundance of food (from garbage bins, petfood, residents feeding them, and the proliferation of berry-fruited plants in gardens and bushland), they now live here all year. Currawongs are merciless, efficient predators of small birds like Robins, Wrens and Honeyeaters. Sometimes you even see Currawong gangs harassing nesting Kookaburras for their eggs. Ochnas in the garden harbour Currawongs.

Noxious Weed Category: 4

Control & Removal Methods

Ochnas have a very long taproot. Often at soil level or just below, the stem will have a kink in it which snaps easily when pulled. The taproot is usually twice the length or more of the above ground stem and contains loads of energy to resprout which it does 9 times out of 10 when cut or broken off. If your Ochna plant is over 10 cm high you’ll have to dig a 20 cm hole to get it out or scrape the side of the stem and paint it with glyphosate. If your Ochna is 2 metres high, the easiest, most effective control is to scrape and paint the stems with glyphosate.

If you have Ochna in your garden please replace it with a suitable alternative plant species, preferably using native plants indigenous to Lane Cove to help attract small birds.