Gynochthodes jasminoides

Sweet Morinda

Family: Rubiaceae

A woody climber/vine or scrambling shrub with stems to 6 meters long. 

It has a large natural distribution in NSW, mainly in the coastal subdivisions and extending to some parts of the tablelands and central western slopes. It extends along the coast and inland of Queensland, to the Cape York Peninsula. It also occurs in the very northern parts of the Northern territory and Western Australia. Its southern limit is the north-east of Victoria, extending west to Bairnsdale. 

It grows in rainforest, wet sclerophyll and dry sclerophyll forest, often in gullies  and shaded-moist pockets. 

Gynochthodes spp. have simple and opposite leaves. In this species, leaves are to 9 cm long and to 35 mm wide, lanceolate to ovate with long acuminate apices; dark green with obvious domatia (small pimple-like pits in the leaf surface at the midvein/secondary vein axils).

Gynochthodes spp. have tubular flowers with 3-5 petal lobes, with exserted anthers and 1 carpel and a basal toothed-calyx; creamy white to purplish in colour. 

In this species, flowers are fragrant, all bisexual or sometimes some male flowers mixed with the bisexual flowers; white, yellowish, or purplish, with the tube to 6 mm long, with 3 to 4 lobes to 5 mm long. Flowers are united at the base heads of up to 20, on paired stalks. Occurring in spring to summer.

The fruit is a drupe and is conspicuous – orange and fleshy, irregularly shaped or round, to 15 mm in diameter.

In the garden

This is an ideal plant in a shady position to cover a shaded trellis or wire fence, as it will grow quite densely and cover the support. It can be found in some native nurseries and propagated easily. 

The fruit is edible but tastes unpleasant.  

This vine attracts many species of butterfly and other insects.

This Editor is currently trialling them as an indoor potted plant. However, they are not as yet, thriving. 

Plants may need to be kept in check with pruning. Vines in the wild can become a tangled mess but do create good habitat. 


Propagation is from fresh seed or semi-hardwood cuttings. Both methods work well.

Other information

This plants went by the name of Morinda jasminoides for a long time, up till about 2011.

Plants in the genus Gynochthodes are woody climbers or sometimes shrub-like when young.  There are 93 species worldwide growing in temperate to tropical regions. Australia has 9 species (several endemic) found on the northern and eastern coasts, in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales. New South Wales currently recognises 2 species. 

GynochthodesIt was originally published in the 1820s as Gynochtodes but was corrected with a ‘h’ added. From Ancient Greek – Gyne (γυνή) – which means “woman / female” (hence: gynocology); then –ochthodis (Οχθωδης) which means ‘warted’ – apparently referring to wart-like projections on the stigmas of the flowers.

jasminoidesFrom Latin resembling Jasmine (Jasminum), as in Trachelospermum

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

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

Growing Illawarra Natives – Gynochthodes jasminoides profile page  https://finder.growingillawarranatives.org/plants/plant/255

Wikipedia – Gynochthodes jasminoides profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynochthodes_jasminoides

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

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – Lucidcentral/Online identification app – Gynochthodes jasminoides profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/gynochthodes_jasminoides.htm

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke