Chilean cestrum

Chilean cestrum

Cestrum parqui

Common Name:

Chilean cestrum

Scientific Name:

Cestrum parqui

Alternative common names:

Green cestrum,Green poison berry, or Willow-leaved jessamine


It is an upright, straggly, woody deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub 2-3 meters (6 ft 7 in-9 ft 10 in) tall with one or more brittle green stems. Light green leaves are alternate and shiny green to 12 cm (5 in) long, giving off a foul rubbery smell when crushed. It has sprays of small, fragrant, tubular yellow-green flowers approximately 2.5 cm long on the ends of the stems, flowering from late spring to autumn. These produce clusters of small, black egg shaped berries during summer to autumn.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Central and South America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Mpumalanga, Free State and coastal regions.

How does it spread?

By birds and water

Why is it a problem?

: it invades gardens, rural lands and bush land. It has a deep and persistent taproot. This weed is considered a major problem because of its toxicity to livestock (especially cattle) and poultry which eat green cestrum when there is a shortage of other feed. All parts of the plant material, stems, leaves, berries and even partly burnt roots pose a serious threat to livestock. Death is usually rapid and painful. The plant is also known to be toxic to other livestock and humans.

What does it look like?

Leaves: Light green leaves are alternate and shiny green

Flowers: tubular yellow-green flowers

Fruit/seeds: clusters of small, black egg shaped berries

Does the plant have any uses?

ornamental plant, hedging, windbreaker

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