Common in moist regions of eastern and southern Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand in margins of subtropical rainforest and as a regrowth plant in cleared scrubby areas. Soft-wooded shrub growing to 4 m with simple, alternate, margins entire or deeply lobed leaves. Mauve flowers on slender stalks several months during the year followed by berries, yellow-orange to red, ovoid up to 2 cm long. Numerous flat seeds. Can be propagated from either seeds or cuttings. A fast-growing pioneer species – lasting about 18 months. Berries must be absolutely ripe to be edible. Pulp of the fruit is sickly-sweet but with a bitter aftertaste – not recommended. Used as steroid precursors for the synthesis of contraceptives and corticosteroids.
Photo: Robert Whyte