Mickey Mouse Plant? Bird’s Eye Bush? What?

Ochna serrulata, commonly known as Bird’s Eye Bush, or Mickey Mouse plant is found in the Ochnaceae family, and is a native of South Africa. The Tucker Greenhouse Bird’s Eye Bush is growing in the Tropical room in the middle bed. It’s a small shrub or tree, about 2-3 meters tall. If you look closely at the plant, you can see bright red sepals, and black fruits or berries. In the spring, the plant has beautiful, fragrant, yellow flowers. The yellow petals drop off fairly soon after flowering, leaving the black fruit to develop, and the red sepals to enlarge. This is a great plant for attracting birds.

red flower

Ochna serrulata found in the Ochnaceae family

So, just to orient you a little, this flower is hanging upside down.  The yellow petals are gone, but the red sepals remain.  The black, enlarged fruits are berries.

red flower

Colorful, papery, Bougainvillea blooms

Bougainvillea sp., commonly called Paper flower, is found in the Nyctaginaceae family, and is native to South America. Bougainvilleas are vining plants that can grow as high as 12 meters. The plants have spiky thorns, and a most incredible flower.  The Tucker greenhouse has four very large Bougainvillea plants located in the south greenhouse.

pink flower

Pink ‘bracts’ surround the white flower of the Bougainvillea plant

salmon flower

Another Tucker greenhouse Bougainvillea plant with salmon-colored bracts

The plant gets its name from Admiral Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French explorer, and the first from his country to circumnavigate the globe.  A botanist accompanying Bougainville was the first European to observe this plant in the late 1700’s.


The Tucker greenhouse contains a nice collection of Cycads. Cycads are ancient plants that were living on the earth close to 300 million years ago.  For more information on Cycads (morphology, systematics, ecology and fossil record), please click here

This particular species, located in the middle bed in the north greenhouse, has just sent up new leaves for the first time in 2.5 years. This particular plant could be at least 35-40 years old.

green leaves

Huge Cycad plant just produced a whole new set of young leaves.

Here’s another shot of the whole plant.  It is at least 2 meters wide and close to 2 meters tall.

green leaves

There are other species of Cycads growing here in the Tucker greenhouse as well.  The picture below is Zamia furfuracea, native to southeastern Mexico.  It recently produced this cone.  This plant is located in the north greenhouse, on the west side.

brown cone

Seed cone of a Zamia furfuracea plant

green plant

Zamia furfuracea or Cardboard palm, found in the Zamiaceae family.                                     

Edithcolea grandis or Persian Carpet Flower blooming in the Tucker Greenhouse

image of a brown and maroon flower

Edithcolea grandis or Persian Carpet Flower found in the Apocynaceae family.  This flower just opened this morning.  This plant is located in the succulent greenhouse, on the west bench.

marron flower

Persian Carpet Flower blooming next to Huernia zebrina, commonly known as the Life Saver plant, (another succulent plant from South Africa) also found in the Apocynaceae.