Unripe berries of Ochna. Source: Sydney Weeds Committee
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
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.
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.
Control & Removal
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.