P serratifolia is a small shrub with a gray-yellow bark, with vertical cracks. It is commonly found in native thickets on the mainland and coastal zone. Sometimes, it develops as a liana or creeper reaching up to 5 m high. The plants leaves are simple and shiny. The fragrant terminal flowers are pale green in colour and the small round fruit are a dark blue colour when ripe.
This endemic species of the Mascarene Islands grows on the coast and also in upland forests, forming the undergrowth of native vegetation. A fast-growing plant, it can colonize areas quickly. The flowers are pollinated by flies, birds and geckos and the fruit are dispersed by birds. Seedlings can be observed in the wild.
This shrub is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. Seeds and seedlings are easily propagated in nurseries for forest restoration and landscaping projects. The population is declining due to the invasion of exotic species.
The leaves are used to make syrup and to treat rheumatic arthritis, colic, flatulence, cough, headache and fever.
The leaves of the type specimen (the specimen used by Linnaeus to describe it in 1771) are somewhat serrated, which explains the choice of the epithet serratifolia for a species whose leaf edges are generally smooth.