Synonyms: Ardisia kotoensis, Ardisia polycephala, Ardisia squamulosa, Bladhia elliptica, Bladhia squamulosa, Tinus squamulosa
Other names: Ardisia, Shoebutton Ardisia, Shoebutton Ardisia
Ardisia elliptica is an evergreen tree, also known as the shoebutton ardisia, native to the west coast of India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Guinea. It is a prolific reproducer which has made it a successful invasive species in other locations in the tropics where it has been introduced as a garden ornamental.
Ardisia elliptica is a tropical understory shrub that can reach heights of up 5 meters. Undamaged plants in forest habitats are characterized by a single stem, producing short, perpendicular branches. Leaves are elliptic to elliptic-obovate, entire, leathery and alternate. Umbellate inflorescences develop in leaf axils of branch leaves. Petals are light pink. Fruits are drupes that first turn red as they mature and then deep purple / black. Pulp staining fingers a deep purple. Seeds are approximately spherical with a diameter of about 5 mm.
Images: Forest Starr & Kim Starr, CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0