A slightly spiny upright shrub with drooping branches. Its oppositely arranged leaves are sometimes toothed towards their tips Its blue or light purple (occasionally white) tubular flowers are borne in elongated clusters. It is most easily distinguished by its large clusters of yellow-orange mature fruit.
Widely naturalised in the coastal districts of eastern Australia (i.e. in the coastal districts of south-eastern, central and northern Queensland and in the coastal districts of northern New South Wales). Also naturalised on Norfolk Island and possibly naturalised in the Northern Territory. Naturalised overseas in southern USA (i.e. California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and Florida), Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, India, China, and on several Pacific islands (i.e. Fiji, French Polynesia, Tonga and Hawaii).
A weed of disturbed sites, waste areas, roadsides, wetter pastures, open woodlands and densely forested areas, and particularly along waterways in sub-tropical and tropical regions.
A upright (i.e. erect) shrub or small tree usually growing 4-6 m tall, but occasionally reaching up to 7 m in height.
Duranta (Duranta erecta) is regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland and northern New South Wales. It was recently listed among the top 50 most invasive species in the New South Wales North Coast environmental weed survey and among the top 100 most invasive plants in south-eastern Queensland. It is also regarded as a "sleeper weed" in other parts of Australia and is listed as an undesirable plant in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in northern Queensland.This species invades moist or wet sites in native bushland areas, and is particularly common along river banks and in riparian zones. An infestation was recently reported to be climbing 10 m up into the existing canopy of an at risk regional ecosystem near Townsville in northern Queensland.Duranta (Duranta erecta) is also listed as an important invasive plant in China, where it causes obvious changes in natural ecosystems, and it is on the list of the most invasive horticultural plants in Hawaii.
The branches can are often drooping in nature, especially when carrying large numbers of mature fruit. There are usually at least some pairs of spines along the stems, one located at the base of each of the leaf stalks (i.e. they are axillary spines). Younger stems are green in colour and sparsely covered in close-lying (i.e. appressed) hairs. The leaves are simple and paired (i.e. oppositely arranged) or occasionally borne in whorls of three. They have short leaf stalks (i.e. petioles) up to 1 cm long and are oval (i.e. elliptic) to egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate). The leaf blades (15-90 mm long and 12-60 mm wide) usually have entire margins, but sometimes they are slightly toothed (i.e. serrated) towards the pointed or rounded tips (i.e. acute or obtuse apices). These leaves are sometimes sparsely covered in close-lying (i.e. appressed) hairs when they are young, but they quickly becomes hairless (i.e. glabrous).
The blue or pale purple flowers (occasionally white) are borne in elongated clusters (5-30 cm long) at the tips of the branches and in the upper leaf stalks (i.e. in terminal and axillary racemes). These flowers (9-18 mm long) are borne on short stalks (i.e. they are sub-sessile) and each flower consists of a thin tube (about 1 cm long), made up of the fused petals, which opens into five distinct lobes (i.e. corolla lobes). The two lower petal lobes are slightly smaller and both of these has a darker stripe down its centre. Each flower also has five small green sepals (3-7 mm long), that are also fused together at the base, and four stamens. Flowering mostly occurs during summer and autumn. The fruit are rounded (i.e. globose) 'berries' (i.e. drupes) and are usually borne in large clusters. These glossy fruit (5-14 mm across) turn from green to orange or yellow in colour as they mature.
This species reproduces mainly by seed, which are most commonly dispersed by birds that eat the brightly coloured fruit. also spread in dumped garden waste.