Tabernaemontana pandacaqui (APOCYNACEAE) Banana Bush

Plants to Plant

A shrub to 2 m found in Queensland, NSW, Pacific Islands, Melanesia, New Guinea rainforest and fringing forest along watercourses. Milky sap. This plant belongs to the same family as the highly poisonous Oleander and is toxic. Care should be taken. Leaves simple, opposite, obovate, distinct midrib and lateral veins. White scented flowers from leaf axils in spring-summer. Germination rapid from fresh seed. Cuttings are also successful.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Flower, Foliage

The attractive white flowers have a strange pinwheel shape, appearing to revolve in a clockwise direction.
Photo: Robert Whyte


The fruit, shaped like miniature bananas, turn yellow when they are ripe. Fruit is highly poisonous, containing many small seeds cloaked in a red fleshy covering. Ripe March-April. Though this plant is quite common in dry rainforest it might be wise to remove ripe fruit from areas where children play.

Photo: Anne Jones

Immature fruit

Like other members of the Apocynaceae the whole plant would be toxic, as the poisonous milky sap is found throughout. Tabernaemontana in honour of Jacob Theodore of Bergzabern, physician and herbalist at Heidelberg, who Latinised Bergzabern into Tabernaemontanus which in English means mountain tavern. Pandacaqui is from the Philippines name for the plant and its first being recorded in the Philippines.

Photo: Robert Whyte