Pittosporum senacia otherwise locally known as “bois carotte” or “carrot wood” is a shrub which can measure up to 5 meters in height. It is very branched, and its bark tends to be light in colour particularly on older stems. It has alternate elliptical leaves which are grouped at the end of branches and arranged in whorls. The leaves have slightly curved margins and a defined venation on the underside. The shrub’s small, white, star-shaped flowers are arranged at terminal branches. Female flowers give way to small orange capsule-like fruit revealing red seeds inside that are coated with a glistening and sticky substance, characteristic of the Pittosporum genera.
The plant is endemic to Mauritius and Reunion. The species is commonly found in the intermediate and upland forests but also often in dry forests. It is an understorey plant which colonises the ground cover rapidly. The fruit are dispersed by birds which facilitate the germination of the seeds.
Classified as a species of ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, its population is declining due to habitat loss and degradation of forest vegetation. Largely propagated in nurseries for ecological restoration projects, it is commonly used in landscaping and gardens.
Its vernacular name comes from the smell of its crumpled leaves that is similar to that of carrots.
The plant has medicinal properties for treating fever, tramp, depurative, febrifuge and nerve attacks.
Atkinson, Rachel, and Jean-Claude Sevathian. 2005. A guide to the plants in Mauritius. Vacoas: Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
Mi-aime-a-ou.com 2002/2018. Pittosporum senacia. [En ligne]. http://www.mi-aime-a-ou.com/Pittosporum_senacia_Putterl.php