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Fetterbush Pieris japonica

Previously known as:

  • Andromeda japonica
Phonetic Spelling
pi-ER-is ja-PON-i-ca
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Japanese pieris is a woody, broadleaf evergreen shrub in the heath family (Ericaceae). It is native to southeast China, central to southern Japan, and Taiwan where it grows in mountain thickets. 

This shrub requires a site with moist, well-drained, acidic soil enriched with organic matter. It grows in full sun to partial shade, preferring some shade when planted in southern gardens. Also, protect it from winter winds. Propagate by stem cutting. 

Japanese pieris has an upright, rounded, and dense habit and slowly matures to a height of 8 to 10 feet and a width of 6 to 8 feet, though there are dwarf cultivars. It is noted for its emerging coppery red leaves, fragrant white urn-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring, and multi-season interest. The shrub does tolerate pruning, but keep in mind that next season's blossoms will appear on old growth.

Use Japanese pieris in the landscape as a specimen or planted in mass to grace landscape borders, home foundations, or Asian gardens. 

Consider planting native alternatives found in the left column.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Reproductive structures (flowers or old fruits) are visible year-round

  • White/pink urn-shaped flowers in pendulous chains

  • New growth is coppery red, and stems are yellow-green

  • Evergreen shrub with sympodial growth, rosette-like leaves

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Leaf spot, dieback, and phytophthora blight. Root rot can occur. Nematodes and lace bugs are major problems.

VIDEO created by Ryan Contreras for “Landscape Plant Materials I:  Deciduous Hardwoods and Conifers or Landscape Plant Materials II:  Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bert Chandler'
    white flowers, salmon pink new foliage then white to light green
  • 'Cavatine'
    compact, low growing mound, white flowers
  • 'Dorothy Wyckoff'
    red flower bud, pale pink to white flowers
  • 'Flaming Silver'
    young leaves red, margins pink then silver white, white flowers
  • 'Katsura'
  • 'Mountain Fire'
    vivid red new growth, white flowers
  • 'Mountain Snow'
  • 'Prelude'
    dwarf, 2 to 3 feet, white flowers
  • ‘Scarlet O’Hara’
    narrow habit, bronze new growth, white flowers
  • 'Temple Bells'
  • 'Valley Rose'
    pastel pink flowers, deep green foliage
'Bert Chandler', 'Cavatine', 'Dorothy Wyckoff', 'Flaming Silver', 'Katsura', 'Mountain Fire', 'Mountain Snow', 'Prelude', ‘Scarlet O’Hara’, 'Temple Bells', 'Valley Rose'
Tags:
#cultivars#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#poisonous#fragrant flowers#specimen#showy leaves#broadleaf evergreen#mass planting#foundation planting#fantz#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for children#problem for horses#shrub borders#poisonous if ingested#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bert Chandler'
    white flowers, salmon pink new foliage then white to light green
  • 'Cavatine'
    compact, low growing mound, white flowers
  • 'Dorothy Wyckoff'
    red flower bud, pale pink to white flowers
  • 'Flaming Silver'
    young leaves red, margins pink then silver white, white flowers
  • 'Katsura'
  • 'Mountain Fire'
    vivid red new growth, white flowers
  • 'Mountain Snow'
  • 'Prelude'
    dwarf, 2 to 3 feet, white flowers
  • ‘Scarlet O’Hara’
    narrow habit, bronze new growth, white flowers
  • 'Temple Bells'
  • 'Valley Rose'
    pastel pink flowers, deep green foliage
'Bert Chandler', 'Cavatine', 'Dorothy Wyckoff', 'Flaming Silver', 'Katsura', 'Mountain Fire', 'Mountain Snow', 'Prelude', ‘Scarlet O’Hara’, 'Temple Bells', 'Valley Rose'
Tags:
#cultivars#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#poisonous#fragrant flowers#specimen#showy leaves#broadleaf evergreen#mass planting#foundation planting#fantz#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for children#problem for horses#shrub borders#poisonous if ingested#landscape plant sleuths course#cpp
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pieris
    Species:
    japonica
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    SE China, Central to Southern Japan, and Taiwan
    Distribution:
    Native; China South-Central, China Southeast, Japan, Taiwan. Introduced: United States--VT
    Wildlife Value:
    Deer resistant
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are dry, small, 1/4-inch, dehiscent, 5-valved capsules that ripen in late summer and persist into winter.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Urn
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The showy floral buds mature in late summer and are attractive in fall and winter. They give way to showy white inverted urn-shaped flowers in 3-6 inch long terminal, drooping clusters or racemes that bloom in spring. Individual flowers are 1/4 inch long. Five calyx lobes are valvate. Five corolla lobes are waxy and urceolate. There are 10 stamens.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblanceolate
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, leathery, simple, crowded rosette-like at branch tips. Shape is obovate-oblong to oblanceolate with acute to obtuse tips, cuneate bases, and crenate-serrate margins. They are dark green above and lighter green beneath, glabrous, and 1-4" in size. New growth is bronze-green to reddish or pinkish.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Bark Description:
    The bark is reddish brown, scaly, split, and vertically fissured when mature.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Twigs are hairless. Stems are green to yellow-green, glabrous when young, and have sympodial growth. The leaves cluster near the branch tips.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems
    Frequent Insect Problems
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    The leaves and nectar are poisonous. Tingling sensation, salivation, nose running, eyes watering, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, abdominal pain, headache, cardiac failure, weakness, and convulsions; may be fatal.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Andromedotoxin, Grayanotoxins
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Leaves
    Sap/Juice