T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Cestrum elegans (Red Cestrum)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae (nightshade)
Genus: Cestrum
Species: C. elegans
Binomial name: Cestrum elegans
Synonyms: Habrothamus elegans
Common names: Red Cestrum, Pink Cestrum, Purple Cestrum, Crimson Cestrum, Cestrum purpureum, Cestrum ewellii, Elegant poison-berry, Butterfly Flower.

  All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested and is extremely toxic to farm animals if grazed. Visit   http://www.terrain.net.nz/friends-of-te-henui-group/plants-toxic-if-eaten-by-man.html

Cestrum elegans is a vigorous, evergreen shrub plant native to Mexico. It grows to 2-4 m high with arching branches that are densely covered with purplish hairs when young and become woody as the plant matures.
The mid-green leaves (40-150 x 15-75 mm) are arranged alternately on the stems and are foul smelling when bruised.
From early summer tubular, magenta to deep crimson, scentless flowers (15-25 mm long) develop, drooping at the ends of branches. In late summer/early autumn it produces dark purple berries.

This shrub is a significant environmental weed because it readily regenerates, invading cool moist forest understory, seriously impacting and threatening the indigenous plant life. Cestrum elegans is spread by seeds or root suckers getting into waterways, by birds depositing seeds in their droppings, soil movement on machinery and by the dumping of garden waste. Plants can also sucker from branches to form dense thickets.

Note: Plants that are slightly hairy on the tubular parts of the petals are plants that originate from horticultural hybrids of Cestrum elegans and Cestrum fasciculatum, and are generally known as Cestrum 'Newellii' or Cestrum fasciculatum 'Newellii'.


The upper surface of a leaf.