Ochna serrulata
Common Name: Mickey Mouse plant 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Ochnaceae
Native Range: South Africa
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Flowers are yellow and calyx is red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 (shrubs are frost tender) where they may be grown in full sun to part shade. Propagate from seed or cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ochna serrulata, commonly known as Mickey Mouse plant or carnival bush, is a small, loose, open, semi-evergreen shrub which typically grows to 4-8’ tall and 3-4’ wide. It is native to the eastern provinces of South Africa where it occurs in a number of different habitats including forest margins, forested areas, open rocky slopes and grassland. Glossy green, narrow-elliptic leaves (to 2 1/2” long) have serrated margins. Fragrant 5-petaled yellow flowers with numerous yellow center stamens bloom on short lateral branches from spring to early summer. Yellow flower petals drop very quickly after which the floral receptacle and 5 sepals become swollen and turn bright red. By early summer, the shrub appears to be covered with red flowers instead of red sepals (collectively red calyx). Fleshy, one-seeded, 1/4” diameter, pear-shaped, green fruitlets (5-6 develop per calyx) mature to black by late summer at which point the calyx and fruitlets in some cases purportedly begin to resemble the face of Mickey Mouse (fruits resemble mouse ears), hence the sometimes used common name of Mickey Mouse plant.

This shrub is now considered to be an invasive weed in some areas (e.g., Australia and New Zealand) primarily as a result of birds consuming the fruit and spreading the seed.

Genus name comes from the Greek ochne meaning wild pear in reference to the fruit shape.

Specific epithet from Latin serratus meaning saw-toothed in reference to the leaf margins.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Usually planted as a specimen or accent. Less frequently grown as a hedge. Can be invasive.