Excoecaria cochinchinensis, or Strawberry Cream, is a small, branching evergreen native to Indo-China, particularly Vietnam. Growing up to two to five feet, its wood stems and pairs of beautiful shiny leaves with deep green tops and a brilliant laquered red beneath provide an ornamental foliage. However, its sap is toxic, leading to its being known as the “Blindness Tree” in Southeast Asia.
Excoecaria cochinchinensis appreciates full sun, partial shade, and moderate amounts of water; it is easy to grow, and tolerates a range of soil types well. It is hardy in USDA Zone 9-11 and can tolerate temperatures of the 30s F in the short-term. In colder regions, the plant is well suited to pot culture, and with proper preparation, can survive the winter indoors. To this end, Excoecaria cochinchinensis should be kept in a location with moist soil and good light, and should not be watered too much.
This plant has some ethnomedical value as well, with eight compounds having been obtained from the root and stem for testing against Staphylococcus aureus. The extracts were made using various extracting procedures, and a range of solvents were used.
In the end, Excoecaria cochinchinensis is a hardy and attractive small shrub that's easy to care for, and with its ornamental foliage, can be an interesting addition to any garden. As long as the plant is kept well-soil and watered, it can survive even cooler climates, making it a great choice for many homes.