Coffea arabica
immature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of flower (Photo: Chris  Gardiner)
close-up of seeds (Photo: Steve Hurst at USDA PLANTS  Database)
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
seedlings (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
paired leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
maturing fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
flowers (Photo: Sheldon Navie)

A shrub or small tree growing up to 5 m tall. Its stems are green, hairless, and have somewhat swollen joints. Its paired leaves (7-20 cm long) are dark green and glossy. Its white flowers are arranged in small dense clusters in the upper leaf forks, with each cluster containing 2-10 flowers. These flowers have five petals with five narrow spreading lobes 10-15 mm long. Its fleshy fruit (10-20 mm long) turn from green to red as they mature.

Common names 
Also known as: Abyssinian coffee, Arabian coffee, arabica coffee, Brazilian coffee, coffee, coffeetree, dwarf coffee,
Flowering time 
Native to central Africa (i.e. south-western Ethiopia, south-eastern Sudan and north-eastern Kenya).
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Naturalised in south-eastern and northern Queensland, as well as on Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. Also naturalised on numerous Pacific islands.


A weed of rainforests, forest margins, riparian vegetation and moist disturbed sites.


A shrub or small tree growing up to 5 m tall.

Impact and control methods 

"Coffee (Coffea arabica) is spreading from cultivation and becoming an environmental weed in south-eastern and northern Queensland. It is also seen as a potential environmental in northern New South Wales and other parts of coastal Queensland. It was recently ranked among the 200 most invasive plant species in south-eastern Queensland, while in northern Queensland it has invaded undisturbed rainforest and rainforest margins on the Atherton Tableland.

This shade-tolerant species is considered to be particularly invasive because it will grow under intact forest canopies. It has often escaped from cultivation and invaded rainforests in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. In Hawaii, coffee (Coffea arabica) also invades valleys, streambeds, and vegetation along creeks (i.e. riparian areas)."

Stem and leaves 

"Plants may have a single main stem or develop multiple stems by branching at or near ground level. The older stems are up to 7 cm thick and have a pale grey bark. The younger stems are green, hairless (i.e. glabrous) with somewhat swollen joints (i.e. nodes).

The paired leaves are simple and borne on short stalks (i.e. petioles) 4-12 mm long. These leaves (7-20 cm long and 3-7.5 cm wide) are dark green and glossy, hairless (i.e. glabrous), and have a prominent mid-vein. They are oblong to oval (i.e. elliptic) in shape with entire margins and pointed tips (i.e. acute or acuminate apices)."

Flowers and fruits 

"The white flowers are arranged in small dense clusters in the upper leaf forks (i.e. axillary cymes), with each cluster containing 2-10 flowers. These fragrant flowers are almost stalkless (i.e. sub-sessile) or are borne on short stalks (i.e. pedicels) up to 4 mm long. They usually have five petals that are fused together at the base into a tube (i.e. corolla tube) about 1 cm long, with five narrow lobes 10-15 mm long. They also have five stamens and an ovary topped with a style and two-lobed stigma.

The fleshy berry-like fruit (i.e. drupes) are slightly elongated (i.e. oblong-ellipsoidal) or almost rounded in shape (i.e. sub-globose). These shiny fruit (10-20 mm long) turn from green to red as they mature. They usually contain two greenish seeds (8-12 mm long) that are flattened on one side and have a central groove."

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces by seed, which are mainly spread by birds and other animlas that eat the fruit.

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