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Ardisia crenata is often confused with:
Ardisia japonica Ardisia japonica-
Native alternative(s) for Ardisia crenata:
Callicarpa americana Callicarpa americana in summer in Moore County
Ilex glabra Leaves
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis
Ardisia japonica Ardisia japonica-
Ilex cornuta Form

Christmas Berry Ardisia crenata

Previously known as:

  • Ardisia bicolor
  • Ardisia crenata ver. bicolor
  • Ardisia crenulata
  • Ardisia densa
  • Ardisia elegans
  • Ardisia glandulosa
  • Ardisia konishii
  • Ardisia kusukusensis
  • Ardisia labordei
  • Bladhia crenata
  • Bladhia kusukusensis
  • Bladhia lentiginosa
  • Tinus densa
Phonetic Spelling
ar-DIS-ee-ah kre-NAY-tah
Description

Coralberry is a small, upright, evergreen shrub that may reach a height of 6 feet. It is native to India, Japan, and the Philippines, and a member of the Primrose family.  Coralberry is typically found in forests and hillsides of Japan. The root of the shrub is used in Chinese medicine to stimulate blood circulation.

The shrub has narrow, glossy, green leaves. Clusters of small, white to pale pink flowers bloom during late spring to early summer. Berries form and gradually change from green to a glossy red color. They remain on the shrub year-round.  A white and pink-fruited berry has also been cultivated.

The genus name, Ardisia, is Greek for "Ardis." Translated means "point." This refers to the pointed anthers of the flowers. The species name, crenata, is the feminine form of the Latin word crenatus, which means "with blunt teeth." This most likely refers to the plant's crenulate or notched leaf margins.

The Coralberry was introduced as an ornamental in Florida in the 1900s. It has escaped into the wild and has become invasive in parts of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. In 1995 the Coralberry was identified as an invasive species in Florida. In 2014 it was labeled as a noxious weed. The shrub had spread to Texas in 1997 and dominated the understory of two nature preserves. It has the potential for colonization in coastal South Carolina due to mild winters. The shrub is difficult to control once established. 

The Coralberry is a close relative to the Marlberry (Ardisia japonica). The Marlberry is a low-growing, evergreen shrub and measures only 8-12 inches in height. This shrub may also spread rapidly and can produce large colonies over time.

The Coralberry prefers rich acidic soil. It will not produce berries when exposed to excessive heat, and excessive sunlight causes the leaves to burn. The shrub does not tolerate flooding.

The Coralberry may be grown in a container as a house plant. It may be best not to plant the Coralberry in landscapes due to its invasive nature. Native shrubs such as the American Beautyberry could perhaps be a better alternative.  

Wildlife Value:  The berries are eaten by cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, raccoons, and other small mammals.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White berries
  • 'Pink Pearls'
    Bright pink berries
'Alba', 'Pink Pearls'
Tags:
#cultivars#evergreen#white flowers#shrub#pink flowers#weedy#winter interest#spreading#red fruits#rounded#partial shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White berries
  • 'Pink Pearls'
    Bright pink berries
'Alba', 'Pink Pearls'
Tags:
#cultivars#evergreen#white flowers#shrub#pink flowers#weedy#winter interest#spreading#red fruits#rounded#partial shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ardisia
    Species:
    crenata
    Family:
    Primulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The root of the plant is used as an ingredient in Chinese medicine. The plant reportedly contains a substance that may treat asthma and hypertension.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northeast India to Japan and Philippines
    Distribution:
    Native: Cambodia, China South-Central, China Southeast, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaya, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tibet, Vietnam Introduced: New South Wales, Puerto Rico, Queensland, Seychelles, and the United States--AL, FL, GA, HI, LA, TX;
    Wildlife Value:
    Songbirds and small mammals eat the berries.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8b, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Following the flowers, the plant produces shiny berries that are initially green. They gradually become a glossy bright red from September to December. They usually remain on the plant until the plant flowers the following year.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The plant has small, thick clusters of star-shaped white to pale pink flowers in lateral sprays from May to June. The flowers are inconspicuous.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Waxy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are alternate, simple, thick, glossy, leathery, and dark green in color. They measure from 4 to 8 inches long and 1-3 inches wide.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Houseplants
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Weedy