Mickey mouse plant
Bird's eye bush
Ochnaceae - Ochna serrulata

What does it look like?

Mickey Mouse plant is a shrub that is usually 1-2m tall and has pimply-textured bark. Its name is due to the appearance of its fruit, which resemble the face of Mickey Mouse because the black berry-like fruits are perched on a red base and surrounded by what look like red petals. It has oval leaves that are 13-50mm long and have finely-toothed margins. The young spring leaves are pinkish-bronze and mature to glossy green. It has bright yellow flowers about 20mm across, which precede the fruit.

Originally introduced as a garden plant, in New Zealand Mickey Mouse plant is currently primarily found in urban gardens and unmanaged/disturbed areas, but it is spreading. It is easily dispersed by birds, and will spread from these more urban areas to other habitats if not controlled.  It is widespread in eastern Australia where it has invaded road sides, disturbed sites, forests, forest margins, and riparian areas. 

Why is it a problem?

Mickey Mouse plant can form a dense monoculture that prevents regeneration of native species, and it grows and reproduces prolifically in Northland’s mild climate.

The brightly coloured fruit are readily eaten and dispersed by birds and may also be dispersed in dumped garden waste or intentionally, by gardeners.

More Information

The good news

Mickey Mouse is not yet widespread in Northland which is why it is on our list of eradication species. There are about 450 known sites are currently under active control, mostly concentrated around Whangarei.

Another feature of the plant that gives us the opportunity to beat it is that is does not have long lived seed, which is a big advantage in eradicating it from a site.

It is important that we identify any other sites that are not yet being controlled so we can stop the spread.

Report it

Use the red ‘Report this pest / weed’ button at the top of this page.

If you are able, please provide close-up photos of the leaves and seeds. This will help us prioritise locations for follow up.

Also, please ensure you provide an address or location on the map. We will visit this location and destroy it safely – free of charge.

Please do not try and pull them out or mulch them because this could spread the seeds.

How long will it take you to follow-up on my report?

We have a biosecurity officer currently working through the visits and follow up control for the known sites. New reports will be followed up as the related area is scheduled. Timeframes will therefore vary depending on the location and the infestation.

Your report will be scheduled for a site visit and our officer will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.

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