Alectryon subcinereus

Native Quince, Wild Quince, Bird's Eye, Hard Alectryon or Holly-leaved Bird’s Eye

Family: Sapindaceae

Is a small tree or shrub growing to 8 m tall and up to 6 m wide with branchlets and inflorescences finely hairy.

It is endemic to eastern Australia, from far eastern Victoria northwards, through eastern New South Wales, on the full extent of the coast and into the central tablelands and western slopes, and through to central Queensland. It is generally found in warm-temperate rainforest and dry rainforest communities.

Leaves are compound-paripinnate (with an even number of leaflets) to 20 cm long. Individual leaflets – up to 8 per leaf – are to 15 cm long and 5 cm wide, coming off the main leaf axis; dark green elliptic-oblong to ovate-oblong with toothed or entire margins.

Flowers are produced in upper leaf axils, in panicle- or raceme-like groups, to 15 cm long. Flowers can be unisexual and bisexual, cream to creamy-green in colour and about 5 mm to 10 mm across.

The fruits are globular capsules, with 2 lobes, and 8 to 10mm long and 8 to 16mm wide.

The seed is black and smooth, surrounded in a red aril (jelly-like substance).

In the garden

An overall nice rainforest tree with a dense canopy.

Hardy but fairly slow growing and is adaptable to most soils with adequate drainage, sun or light shade.

Fruit attracts native butterflies and birds. Lends to rainforest gardens.

Give some enrichment in soil for best results. Can be found at suitable nurseries, especially those that sell rainforest plants.


Can be propagated from seed by germination can be tricky. Seed usually has to pass through the gut of a bird naturally, so mild acid can be tried adhering with general propagation advice and practices.

Unknown if cuttings prove successful.

Other information

Can likely respond after mild fires as it does grow in inland drier rainforest habitats which are fire prone.

Alectryon – from the Ancient God of roosters and chickens in Greek mythology (ἀλεκτρυών). Alectryon was turned into a rooster by Ares (the Greek God of Courage and War). This refers to the cockscomb appearance of the fleshy aril on the seeds.
subcinereus Latin sub – “under” and -cinereus “ash-grey” referring to the colour of the undersides of the leaflets.


By Jeff Howes