Turkey bush

Turkey bush

Margo’s Manuscripts

The smooth psychotria, or turkey bush (Psychotria daphnoides) is a lovely, open shrub with shiny green leaves, and a profusion of terminal, small star-shaped flowers through spring and into summer. The ellipsoid, cream-white fruit are succulent and edible. This species is naturally found north from the Manning River in New South Wales into South-East Queensland at the edges of rainforests and as an understory plant in wet eucalypt forests. As such, it grows well in gardens with moist, well-drained soil in either full or partial sun. As it provides both food and protection for small birds, it is a good plant to include in bird-attracting gardens. The flowers also provide food for a variety of adult butterflies. Since this species can grow in a variety of light conditions, it is also a valuable regeneration species where it will provide a stable middle story once trees have grown and will self-sow.

The genus name Psychotria is derived from the Greek meaning ‘sustaining life’. It is a pantropical plant group and many species have been used in medicinal preparations, although to date ethnobotanical use of this particular species by indigenous Australians has not been identified.

Psychotria daphnoides, Turkey Bush
Psychotria daphnoides
Photograph by Neil Murphy.

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