Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Rivina humilis L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © G. Sankowsky
Fruit. © G. Sankowsky
Habit, leaves, flowers and fruit. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. von (1753) Species Plantarum 2: 121. Type: Habitat in Caribaeis, Jamaica, Barbados.

Common name

Turkey Berry; Rouge Plant; Coral Berry


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1 m tall but can flower and fruit when much smaller.


Leaf blades about 4-12 x 1.5-4 cm, petioles about 1-3.5 cm long. Leaf blade quite thin, wilting quickly when picked. Twigs glabrous, longitudinally grooved, rather pithy. Scattered pale-coloured hairs usually present along the midrib on the underside of the leaf blade. Petiole with two rows of glandular hairs on the upper surface.


Racemes +/- erect, glabrous, about 4-12 cm long, pedicels about 2-3 mm long at anthesis, subsequently elongating. Tepals about 2-2.5 mm long, glabrous. Anthers glabrous. Ovary subglobose, glabrous, style short with an extension running down the side of the ovary.


Fruits bright red, about 3.5-4 mm diam. Testa brown, surface hairy. Embryo horseshoe-shaped, surrounding a central pocket of endosperm, cotyledons rolled longitudinally like a cigar.


Cotyledons orbicular to almost cordate, glabrous, about 9-11 mm diam, petiole about 8-10 mm long, almost as long as the cotyledon. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade lanceolate or broadly lanceolate, petiole almost as long as the leaf blades. Upper surface of the petiole, near its junction with the leaf blade, densely clothed in short, glandular (?) hairs. Petiole grooved on the upper surface.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from tropical America, now naturalised in CYP (Torres Strait Islands), NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as coastal central New South Wales. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 900 m. Usually a weed associated with man-made or modified vegetation types but also grows in disturbed areas in lowland and upland rain forest and monsoon forest. Also found in closed vegetation types near the sea. Also occurs as a pantropic weed.

Natural History & Notes

All plant parts are poisonous. Austin, D. F. 1998. Poisonous Plants of Southern Florida.

This species may have medicinal properties and it is regarded as poisonous.

Rivina humilis var. glabra (L.) H.Walter, Das Pflanzenreich Heft 39 : 105(1909). Rivina laevis L., Mantissa Plantarum : 41(1767), Type: Habitat in America. Rivina glabra L., Species Plantarum 1: 122(1753), Type: West Indies. Fide Hewson (1984).
RFK Code
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