Ochna serrulata

Mickey mouse plant

Family: Ochnaceae

Origin: South Africa

Mickey Mouse Plant with fruit and flowers.
You need to control an area that has has mickey mouse plant for up to three years as seeds will continue to germinate. Replant with natives once no further plants re-invade.
Photo credit: Weedbusters

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Aotea — Exclusion
  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • National Pest Plant Accord Species

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Shrub < 3 m tall. Leaves are oval, < 5 cm long and finely toothed. Flowers are yellow, < 2 cm in diameter and borne in September – March. Fruit is black, attached to red sepals, resembles the face of Mickey Mouse and is borne in autumn.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Mickey Mouse plant. As Mickey Mouse plant is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Mickey Mouse plant within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Mickey Mouse plant on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

If you see Mickey Mouse plant anywhere on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group, please report it to Auckland Council at pestfree@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.


Forest, forest margins, riparian areas, roadsides, disturbed sites, wasteland, grassland, rock walls.


Seeds dispersed by birds, water and gravity. Human-mediated dispersal through deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

Potential to invade intact forest ecosystems. Likely to dominate scrub layers and suppress native recruitment.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Do not attempt to undertake control of this species on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group. Please report to Auckland Council if seen on Aotea/Great Barrier Island group.

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Mickey Mouse plant flowers and buds.
Attractive yellow flowers attract bees and other insects for pollination. Seeds can stay viable in the soil for a few years.
Photo credit: Weedbusters
Glossy leaves of Mickey Mouse Plant.
A shrub growing up to 3m tall. Leaves have serrated edges and are a dark, glossy green.
Mickey Mouse Plant with distinctive immature fruit.
Fruit is very distinctive by having black berries attached to red sepals. When ripe, fruit can look like the face of Mickey Mouse.
Hand holding branch with immature Mickey Mouse fruit.
A hardy plant that can grow in most locations preferring full sun. Tends to grow in disturbed areas where it can grow outside the shade of larger trees.
Branches of Mickey Mouse plant with leaves.
Can produce many seeds that can fall and germinate or be eaten by birds. Has the potential to take over regenerating forest areas.
Close up of Mickey Mouse fruit.
Mature berries are eaten by birds and can be deposited in other areas to germinate. Fruit ripens in autumn/winter.
Long branch of Mickey Mouse plants with two fruit.
A popular garden plant that was chosen for its distinctive red sepals covering the developing fruit. It is illegal to grow or sell this plant.