Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ardisia

A genus of 250 plants native to moist forest understories in Asia as well as the tropics of the Americas. The foliage is usually crowded towards the ends of the branchlets as in Rhododendrons and Skimmias and the berries are typically very attractive.
Most prefer partial to full shade, high humidity and protection from excessive wind. They prefer moist, light, humus-rich, well drained soil. Ardisias are rarely bothered by pests and diseases but most are NOT drought tolerant so that irrigation may be required during drought and mulch is recommended as well. May be prone to scale and mites in some regions. Generally pruning is not needed but old plants can be renovated by cutting back almost to the base in early spring.
They can be propagated from both semi-ripe cuttings taken during summer as well as seed sown in spring which may take awhile to germinate.

Ardisia crenata ( Coral Ardisia )
A popular garden shrub that is native to Asia from the eastern Himalayas to southern China, Korea and southern Japan. It originates from a single, upright woody stem and has short side branches that tier from it. The Coral Ardisia can reach a maximum size of 10 x 8 feet after many years however is usually less than half that. It may have invasive potential in Florida.
The leathery, elliptic leaves, up to 8.5 x 2 inches, are very glossy deep green.
Small white starry flowers, up to 0.3 inches wide, are borne on terminal clusters during late spring and summer.
They are followed in autumn by small but abundant, very showy, glossy, scarlet berries that ripen in early autumn and persist well into winter ( sometimes even late winter ). There is also a form with white berries.
Hardy zones 7 to 11 ( 6 on protected sites ). It is not salt tolerant.

'Variegata'
New foliage with narrow red margins that turn to white.

Ardisia crispa
Native to much of the same range as Ardisia crenata but also the mountains of southeast Asia. It grows a little larger reaching a maximum size of 10 feet with foliage up to 12 x 2 inches and flower panicles to 4 inches in length.
Hardy zones 7 to 11

Ardisia escallonioides ( Marlberry )
A fast growing, bushy, rounded, small, evergreen tree to 15 feet or more that is native to south Florida, Mexico, Guatemala and the northern Caribbean. The largest on record is 50 x 10 feet with a trunk diameter of 6 inches. Due to its dense habit and attractive foliage, it makes a great screen.
The elliptic leaves, to 7 x 2 inches in size, often has rounded tips. The foliage is glossy deep green.
The small, starry, creamy white flowers, up to 0.3 inches wide, are borne on upright sprays to 5 inches in length in summer and fall. Up to 20 flowers may be borne in a cluster.
They are followed by small, glossy purplish-black berries up to 0.3 inches wide.
It is very tolerant of soil PH, salt as well as moderate drought tolerant. It is not typically bothered by insect pests. Thrives in sun or shade from zones 9 to 12. Drought and salt tolerant, it is great for planting on sand dunes though also thrives on regular soils.

Ardisia humilis
A tree, reaching a maximum height of 35 feet, that is native to India.
The leaves are up to 8 inches in length.
Hardy zones 10 to 11

Ardisia japonica
An attractive, evergreen groundcover native to China and Japan. It reaches a maximum height of 20 inches ( average is around 8 to 10 inches ) and spreads from rhizomes below the soil. Rapid growing but never invasive it may reach up to 10 feet or more across after decades if left on its own.
The sharply serrated, oval leaves are up to 5 x 2 ( rarely over 4 ) inches but usually less. The foliage is glossy deep green.
Small white to light pink flowers appear in summer beneath the foliage.
The flowers are followed by 0.25 inch fruits that are pink to red in color.
The fruits persist well into winter.
Hardy zones 7 to 10 as an evergreen, but can also be grown in zone 5 and 6 as a perennial groundcover on a sheltered site. Reported to have escaped into the wild in parts of northern Florida, especially in its preferred woodland conditions.

* photo taken on May 8 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on Nov 19 2016 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

* historic archive photo


'Chirimen'
An extra hardy form, hardy north to zone 6. It even thrives in southern Michigan on protected sites though not evergreen there. It forms a beautiful groundcover, up to 8 inches x 4 feet. The leathery foliage is deep green.
The white flowers are followed by scarlet-red berries, up to 0.25 inches across.

* photo taken on June 1 2013 in Clarksville, MD

* photo taken on June 23 2013 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC


'Matsu Shima'
Pink stems and also with variegated leaves.

'Nishiki'
Variegation on margins of foliage is translucent pink in spring turning cream in summer.

* photo taken on May 8 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


* photos taken on October 17 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

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