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.
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.
These notes were prepared by Cas Liber with the assistance of Irene Champion.
Fruit and foliage of Ochrosia elliptica
Photo: Cas Liber