India Shoebutton Ardisia, Ardisia elliptica

Ardisia elliptica is an evergreen tree species. The plant is a member of the Myrsinaceae family. It may also be commonly referred to as the Shoebutton ardisia.

A. elliptica is a tropical shrub that can grow up to a height of 16 feet. Natural plants growing in forest habitats are recognized by a single stem producing short, perpendicular branches. The leaves are long, leathery and green. Inflorescences or flower clusters are grown in the leaf axils of the branches leaves. Flowers have light pink petals. Fruit, called “drupes”, is produced and remain red until mature, when they turn a deep purple or black. Pulp from the drupe will stain fingers and clothing a deep purple. Its seeds are spherical with a diameter of about .2 inches.

A. elliptica is endemic to the west coast of India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Guinea. It is a wildly active reproducer, which has made it a successful invasive species in additional areas of the tropics, where it has been introduced as an ornamental decoration.

Image Caption: India Shoebutton ardisia (Ardisia elliptica). Credit: Forest & Kim Starr/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)