Alectryon subcinereus

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

Family: Sapindaceae

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.

Do early shaping for tree species. 


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 is a genus of about 35 species, distributed from The Phillipines, through Indonesia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. Australia has 13 species, 12 of which are endemic, occuring in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. NSW currently has 7 species. 

Alectryon – named for a character in Greek mythology (Aλεκτρυών). Alectryon was a young soldier who was turned into a rooster by Ares – the Greek God of Courage and War. The name refers to the rooster-comb appearance of the fleshy aril surrounding the seeds in the fruit.

subcinereus – Latin – sub – “under” and –cinereus “ash-grey” referring to the colour of the undersides of the leaflets.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. 

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Alectryon subcinereus profile page          https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Alectryon~subcinereus

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – Alectryon subcinereus profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/alectryon_subcinereus.htm

Paten Park Native Nursery

Flora and Fauna of The Mid North Coast of New South Wales – Alectryon subcinereus profile page http://floragreatlakes.info/html/rfspecies/wildquince.html

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.