Passerina ericoides

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Passerina ericoides
Passerina Ericoides ChristmasBerry Plant - Cape Town.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Thymelaeaceae
Genus: Passerina
Species: P. ericoides
Binomial name
Passerina ericoides

Passerina ericoides, the Christmas berry, is a threatened species of plant in the family Thymelaeaceae, genus Passerina. It is indigenous to the coastal fynbos areas in and around the city of Cape Town, South Africa.

Description and biology[edit]

Passerina ericoides is a shrub typically up to 1 metre high, with narrow, slightly succulent, leaves some two to three mm long, its flowers are greenish-yellow to reddish, and are subtended by leaflike bracts. Unlike most species of Passerina, the plant bears fleshy orange or red berries. They taste nasty, but are harmless and look very attractive.[1] Tortoises eat them and presumably spread their seed in their droppings. For that reason one of the common names is "skilpadbessie" (Afrikaans for "tortoise berry", a name shared with various other plants such as Nylandtia and Chironia baccifera.)


Passerina ericoides is an excellent plant for stabilising mobile sand dunes. Its strong, extensive roots bind the sand, and send up shoots elsewhere to do likewise. It also is a rewarding, "water wise" plant for coastal gardens. It can be propagated by seed or by cuttings. [2]


  1. ^ Watt, John Mitchell; Breyer-Brandwijk, Maria Gerdina: The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa 2nd ed Pub. E & S Livingstone 1962
  2. ^