Native to Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, this evergreen shrub is a member of the citrus family, Rutaceae, that also includes rue, curry tree, and boronia. The plant grows up to 4′ tall and may be wider than tall. The stems are fragrant when bruised and have bark that is green-tinged and reddish-purple. The leathery, ovate leaves are 2.5-5″ long, carried in whorls at the ends of the stems, and are green on top, yellow-green below. Like the stem, the leaves have a spicy fragrance when bruised. In spring, rounded 2-3″ long terminal clusters of creamy-white to pink tinged male and female flowers appear on different plants. Each flower is up to 1/3″ across, star-shaped and fragrant, but male flowers tend to be more fragrant and larger than female flowers. Female, flowers, on the other hand, give way to attractive glossy bright red berries that are up to 3/8″ across, ripen in the fall, and persist through the winter. Since male and female flowers appear on different plants, the gardener may have to make a choice between fragrance and berries. If berries are considered more desirable, plant male to female plants in the ration of 1 to 5. Japanese skimmia is a good choice for a border, hedge, foundation planting as well as for fragrance, shade, and woodland gardens. The genus name, Skimmia, is derived from the Japanese name for the plant, Shikimi. The specific epithet, japonica, refers to one of the countries where the plant is native. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Type: Flowering evergreen shrub

Outstanding Feature: Berries, fragrance

Form: Dome-shaped mound

Growth Rate: Slow

Bloom: Clusters of creamy-white pink tinted male and female flowers on different plant in spring

Size: 3-4′ H x 4-5′ W

Light: Part to full shade

Soil: Moderately fertile, consistently moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 6-8

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Generally healthy but susceptible to damage by aphids, horse chestnut scale, and fruit tree red spider mites

Propagation: Semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer

Outstanding Selections:

‘Fragrans’ (male with outstand fragrance)

‘Dwarf Male’

‘Nymans’ (female with red berries)

‘Pabella’ (female with red berries)

‘Veitchii’ (large clusters of red berries)

‘Rubella’ (red buds open to white flowers)

‘Bronze Knight’ (dark green leaves tinted with red in winter)

‘Magic Marlot’ (leaves with yellow margins maturing to cream colored margins)

    Photo Credit: Wikipedia

    By Karen