An erect branching perennial herb, to about 1 m high, may be sprawling in shade or more compact in full sun. Has a large woody white taproot, all parts of the plant poisonous.

Stems smooth and green or reddish. Leaves to 16 cm, oval with a pointed tip, smell unpleasant when crushed. Flowers small, white in tight narrow clusters. The purple-black fleshy fruits to 5 mm in diameter.

Appears after disturbance, rampant growth will suppress any other plants growing beneath it. Seed is spread by birds.

An uncommon native plant Deeringia amaranthoides around the edges of fig-dominated dry rainforest has similar leaves and fruits. Leaves have a more drawn-out pointed tip, the small red flowers are in longer, more open spikes, and berries in a more open spike.

Small infestations can be chipped out, take care to remove the growing crown at the top of the root. Hand pulling is ineffective, as the root regrows.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Flowers and young fruit

This specimen was on Enoggera Creek, Yoorala Street west, upstream of the Fursman Bridge, in a patch of remnant dry rainforest, adjacent to a newly planted area.

Photo: Robert Whyte