Ochrosia elliptica

Distribution Map
Family: Apocynaceae
Distribution: Northern and central coastal Queensland, in foredune vine thickets behind mangroves. Lord Howe Island and parts of Melanesia.
Common Name: Bloodhorn; mangrove ochrosia; wedge apple; berrywood tree (Lord Howe Is.)
Derivation of Name: Ochrosia... From Greek ochros, yellow or pale yellow, apparently in reference to the colour of the wood of some species (the common name for the genus is "yellow wood").
elliptica...referring to the elliptical shape of the leaves.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Ochrosia elliptica grows into a large shrub or small spreading tree 5 to 9 metres tall. It has attractive leathery dark green elliptic to obovate leaves up to 8-20cm long and 4-8cm wide. The leaves occur in whorls of 3 or 4. From October to February, the flowers occur in axilliary clusters and are small, yellow/white and fragrant. They are followed by pairs of striking red fruit 5-6 cm long by 2-3 cm in diameter, which resemble elongated tomatoes or a pair of red horns. This also gives rise to its common name of Bloodhorns. Unfortunately, the fruit are poisonous, and plants bleed white sap copiously when wounded.

Ochrosia elliptica
Fruit and foliage of Ochrosia elliptica
Photo: Cas Liber

Bloodhorn may be found to within a few metres of the sea and has potential in beach stabilization projects. Obviously salt tolerant, it would make an attractive specimen plant for a coastal garden in a warm climate, though the fact that the attractive fruit are poisonous must be taken into account. The species is frost sensitive and, to date, has been rarely cultivated except by enthusiasts.

Propagation is from fresh seed or cuttings.


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