Common names: Indian Cherry; Indian Plum
This small to medium-sized tree is native to south-east Asia and India where it is often cultivated for its rather sour fruit that can be made into an excellent jam. The fruit are bright red when ripe and about 20 to 25mm in diameter. It is a really attractive looking tree with dark glossy-green leaves. It is deciduous and the new leaves that appear in spring have brilliant autumn-red tones. We have removed about 10 of these trees from the bushland and rather surprisingly they were fairly widely scattered. This species is dioecious with separate male and female trees. This last remaining tree is a female but since there are no other Flacourtia trees that I know of within cooee of it, it should not be capable of producing any fertile seeds. This tree does have one most unattractive feature. Its lower trunk and branches are covered with extremely ferocious branched spines. Interestingly these spines are not produced on the trunk and branches above about 3 metres from the ground. Presumably this is an evolutionary trait to prevent animals from climbing the trunk but the spines would be wasteful of the tree’s resources in the canopy. When I decided to retain the tree temporarily, I carefully removed all of its spines. Much to my surprise I have discovered that it is in the process of regrowing these spines.
In three or four years when this tree has served its purpose it will be removed by poisoning with glyphosate.