The Oriental photina (Photina villosa) is native to Japan and Korea. It is a deciduous tree or shrub with an irregular ovoid crown. The tree grows 10 to 15 feet high. It has alternate sharply toothed leaves of a dark green color. The tree has white flowers that bloom in May and red oval small fruits that mature in October. The leaves turn red in the fall. the bark has large lenticels. The genus name comes from the Greek word photeinos meaning “shining” in reference to the shiny leaves.
Common name: Oriental Photina, Christmas berry
Scientific Name (family and order): Photina villosa (Thunberg) A.P. De Candolle (Rosaceae, Rosales)
Origin: Species Native to forests, thickets, stream margins, slopes, roadsides and waste areas in Japan, Korea, China.
New Jersey Status: USDA no listing
Habit: Often a shrub which can be trained to a tree; 17’ tall and broadly spreading; in this form the shoots, young leaves and flower stalks are typically very hairy.
Habitat: Zone 4 -7.
Trunk/Stem: Bark gray brown with shallow fissures
Leaves: Deciduous, Simple, Alternate. Obovate to elliptic 3 ¼” x 1 ½”. Leaf tips attenuate to acuminate; base wedge-shaped. Margins sharply serrate with each serration gland-tipped; very short reddish petiole. Leaves emerge with bronze tint in spring, mature to dak green by summer and finally, in the fall the leaves turn yellow, orange, red.
Flowers: Perfect. White, ½ “ across with 5 petals (each 1/3” wide) borne in terminal corymbose panicles ( 2”wide). Flowering in April to May.
Fruits and seeds: spherical to ovoid bright glossy red pomes borne on rough warty pedicels and held on the tree well into winter – hence the name Christmas berry.