In its native Australia, Alyxia ruscifolia is known by the common names chainfruit, prickly alyxia, native holly, and moonya. It is a shrubby member of the dogbane family, or Apocynaceae; the family also contains growth forms such as trees, climbers, scramblers, herbs, and stem succulents. Alyxia is a moderately-diverse genus, with 14 species in Australia, 21 in New Caledonia, and 7 in other Pacific Islands.
Alyxia ruscifolia grows in areas of high precipitation in eastern Australia from near sea level to 900m. It helps form the understorey on marginal areas of rainforests, monsoon forests, and wet sclerophyll forests (e.g., the Eucalyptus grandis forest of northeast Queensland). Despite its association with wetter areas, the species is generally considered to be drought-tolerant.
Moonya grows to approximately 2m tall. The pointy-tipped narrow lanceolate leaves grow in whorls or 4 or 5. Fragrant white flowers are borne in terminal heads, and bloom in spring and summer. Fruits are orange to red in colour, and, in accordance with one of the common names, appear to grow in chains.