Ixora coccinea



Ixora coccinea

L. 1753

pronounced: iks-OR-uh kok-KIN-ee-uh

(Rubiaceae — the gardenia family)


common names: ixora, flame-of-the-woods, jungle flame

Ixora, which is thought to have originated in Asia, is named after Iswara, a Malabar deity; coccinea comes from the Greek κοκκος (kokkos), the berry of the scarlet oak, used as a red dye.

Despite the red connotation of the name, cultivars of Ixora coccinea are available in red, white, pink and yellow, and form the bulk of the Ixora plants grown in Australia. There are also dwarf varieties.

This is an acid-loving plant, perennial in our climate, preferring a soil pH of about 5, which is slightly lower than for most other landscape plants. For this reason, and for their invasiveness described below, it is best not to plant Ixora too close to concrete paths or house foundations, which usually make the surrounding soil more alkaline.

When grown under conditions that it likes, Ixora has dark green glossy leaves and colourful flower clusters that bloom for most of the year. At its worst, its leaves will either turn yellow because of a high pH, or will turn black because of the sooty mold, a fungus that grows on the excrement of the mealy bugs that regard the plant as a delicacy. Nematodes can also be a problem among the roots, particularly if the plants are mulched right up to the trunk.

If not trimmed into a hedge, Ixora is a dense, multi-branched evergreen shrub, commonly under 2 m in height, but capable of reaching up to about 3.5 m. It has a rounded form, with a spread that may exceed its height. The glossy, leathery, oblong leaves are anything up to 10 cm long, with entire margins, and are carried as opposite pairs or whorled on the stems. Small tubular flowers appear in dense, rounded clusters 5 – 13 cm across.

The roots of Ixora can be extremely invasive. They will spread under concrete paths and building foundations and creep up through cracks in the concrete, and can do considerable damage.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2005-2011
Page last updated 20th January 2019