Dodonaea viscosa is a very branched monoecious or dioecious shrub, that can grow up to 4 meters tall. Its branches grow upwards and its shape resembles that of a fir tree. Its foliage is fluorescent green. The leaves are simple and variable in shape; obovate to lanceolate with a leathery but flexible texture. The plant produces small greenish-yellow flowers in the axils of the leaves and orange-red winged fruit with the same consistency as papyrus that contain hard black seeds.
This species grows at different altitudes, forming the undergrowth of the native canopy, but prefers windy and exposed places. The flowers are pollinated by flies, bees and geckos, the seeds are dispersed by the wind. The plant regenerates well in nature, can colonize a space quickly and acts as a pioneer species.
Native to the Mascarenes, it is said to be of ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List. It is protected under the forest restoration project, in the Nature Reserves. The seeds are propagated in nurseries before being replanted in nature and in landscaping projects. The population is at risk of decline due to the invasion of exotic species.
It is a very decorative shrub.
Its long, narrow leaves emit a ripe apple odor when watered or crushed, hence its vernacular name.
It is a medicinal plant, this is used as an astringent, or in an infusion against kidney stones.
The first sample of the plant was collected in 1760 by Nikolaus Joseph Freiherr von Jacquin, a scientist who studied medicine, chemistry and botany.