Red Cestrum

Red Cestrum

Cestrum elegans

Origin: Mexico
Size: 2 - 3 m H
Fruits: January to April
Flowers: June to November
Best removal time: June to January

What it does

It readily regenerates, invading cool moist bushland areas seriously impacting and threatening the indigenous plant life of the Yarra Ranges by out-competing local species. Plants sucker to form dense thickets.

Red Cestrum is a medium-sized shrub similar in appearance to a fuchsia. It has large dark green leaves which have a very unpleasant smell when crushed.

Cestrum forms dense clusters of red trumpet-like flowers, drooping at the ends of branches. In late summer/early autumn it produces dark purple berries.

How it spreads

  • by birds who eat the red berries. Birds can then travel over vast areas depositing seeds in droppings allowing the plant to generate in new areas.
  • by seeds or root suckers getting into waterways, with soil movement or on machinery.
  • by dumping of garden waste in bushland, on roadsides and in waterways.
  • by leaving cut branches laying on the ground, segments can take root and grow into a new plant.

How to remove it

Remove by hand

Hand removal is recommended for small seedlings where practical. 

Cut and paint

Cut the stem and apply herbicide within 15 seconds of cutting.  Dispose of the cut part of the plant carefully as stems can reshoot if left touching the soil. 

Spray with herbicide

Spray actively growing plants and ensure that all the foliage is covered with the herbicide. Keep stock away from dead plant material as it remains poisonous.

Indigenous alternatives to plant

Many shrub alternatives indigenous to the Yarra Ranges region are available and would make great substitutes for Red Cestrum. Some alternatives include:

How to dispose of weeds

By disposing of environmental weeds correctly you can prevent re-infestation on your property and elsewhere.

  • Landfill (Weed Wipeout Tip vouchers available for some species).
  • Green waste bin ensures that weeds are not able to spread.
  • Woody weed stems can be bundled for green collection twice per annum.
  • Composting (excluding seed heads or species with vegetative reproduction, e.g. Wandering Trad).
  • Burning in accordance with Council and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) prescribed burning periods and regulations.
  • Recovery and transfer stations available for weed tipping are Healesville, Wesburn, Coldstream, Lysterfield and Montrose.

Using Chemicals

Non chemical treatments is often the most effective and safe option especially on smaller scale infestations.

Where chemical use is undertaken:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using chemicals.
  • Wear protective clothing and eyewear
  • On purchasing your herbicide, always ask for a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or refer to the manufacturer’s website for specific safety guidelines and information.
  • Some herbicides will kill other plants and not just the target species.
  • Near waterways herbicides can be very poisonous to aquatic life.
  • Use chemicals sparingly and be sure that you are using the right chemical and application technique.
  • Ensure the weather conditions are suitable (e.g. minimal wind and no rain expected)
  • Apply herbicides at the correct time during the plant’s growth cycle so you get the best results.