A plant with a distinctive unpleasant odour. Yellow, woody roots. Yellow-green, tubular, very elongated flowers. A peristent weed along watercourses and in parks and gardens. Does not take over whole areas, but is poisonous, therefore high priority for removal. Declared noxious, mainly for its threat to livestock.

An erect, perennial shrub to 2 m tall, occasionally more, forms clumps and produces suckers.

Young shoots usually hairy and green. Newer stems are whitish, older stems are woody.

Fruit ovoid berries glossy black when ripe containing prism-shaped seeds.

Known to be toxic to cattle, sheep, horses, pigs and poultry. Symptoms in cattle include fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloody diarrhoea. The plant causes liver injury and subsequent bleeding. At autopsy there is frequently extensive bleeding into the heart muscle.

Photo: Robert Whyte


Flowers in clusters at the end of the branches have greenish yellow petals all year round, abundant in spring.

Handling cestrum may cause contact dermatitis in some people.

Seedlings may be hand pulled or dug out. Cut and paint mature plants, preferably before they begin to develop seed. To improve the effectiveness when using the cut and paint method, peel the bark back all around the stump and apply herbicide quickly to both the cut face and the exposed outer wood.

Declared noxious in Queensland (Category P2 – numbers and distribution of this species to be reduced). It is toxic to stock and is also declared noxious in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Leaf upper

Leaves are alternately arranged, dark green and slightly shiny above and paler below, with slightly wavy margins and a pointed tip, 7-14 cm long.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Leaf underside

The prominent central vein on each leaf is yellow and strongly raised on the underside, particularly near the leaf base. This photograph shows the raised mid vein, but the colouration is not as yellow as some, due to the shady location of this specimen.

Photo: Robert Whyte