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 Skimmia subsp. var.  
Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana
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Lifespan: perennial
Water: moist
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Rutaceae > Skimmia var. ,

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Skimmia is a genus of four species of evergreen shrubs and small trees in the Rue family, Rutaceae, all native to warm temperate regions of Asia. The leaves are clustered at the ends of the shoots, simple, lanceolate, 6-21 cm long and 2-5 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The flowers are in dense panicle clusters, each flower small, 6-15 mm diameter, with 4-7 petals. The fruit is red to black, 6-12 mm diameter, a fleshy drupe containing a single seed. All parts of the plant have a pungent aroma when crushed.[1]

Skimmias are grown as garden plants for their foliage, flowers, and showy red fruits.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Skimmia (Japanese, Skimmi, meaning a hurtful fruit). Rutaceae. Ornamental woody plants grown chiefly for the bright red berries and the handsome foliage.

Evergreen glabrous shrubs: lvs. alternate, short-petioled, entire, dotted with translucid glands: fls. perfect or dioecious, the staminate fragrant and in large panicles; sepals and petals 4-5; stamens 4-5; style with 2-5-lobed stigma; ovary 2-5-loculed: fr. a drupe with 2-4 1-seeded stones.—Four species from the Himalayas to China and Japan.

The skimmias are densely branched, usually low shrubs with medium-sized generally oblong acute leaves, small white flowers in terminal panicles and showy bright red, rarely black, berry-like fruit. They are tender, not being reliably hardy as far north as Washington, D. C. S. Fortunei is somewhat hardier than S. japonica. Handsome shrubs for borders of evergreen shrubberies and especially valuable for planting in cities, as they belong to the best smoke-enduring evergreen shrubs; they are particularly beautiful when covered with their bright red fruits, which are retained through the whole winter if not eaten by birds. In the greenhouse two crops of berries on a plant may be seen occasionally. The skimmias are of rather slow growth and thrive best in a sandy loamy soil, but also grow well in strong clay; they prefer a partly shaded situation. On account of their handsome fruits they are sometimes cultivated in pots in a sandy compost of peat and loam. As the skimmias are polygamous and mostly unisexual, it will be necessary to plant staminate plants among the pistillate ones to secure well-fruited specimens. Propagation is by seeds sown in fall or stratified and by cuttings under glass with gentle bottom heat. William Scott writes: "Seeds sown in the fall and grown along in a coolhouse during winter can be planted out in a good loam the following spring, when they will make a vigorous growth, and can be lifted the following October. Their red berries make them very desirable as a Christmas berry plant."

S. Laureola, Sieb. & Zucc. Shrub, 5 ft. high, of a strong aromatic odor when bruised: lvs. narrow-oblong to obovate, acute or acuminate, bright green: fls. 5-merous. Himalayas. G. 32:255.— S. melanocarpa, Rehd. & Wilson. Shrub, or small tree, to 15 ft.: lvs. oblong-lanceolate or lanceolate, dark green and lustrous above, 1 1/2 – 3 1/2 in. long: fls. dioecious, in panicles about 1 1/2 in. long: fr. purplish black, globose, 1/3 in. across. W. China, Himalayas. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


They are grown in shade, with moist, well-drained, humus-rich soils. They are tolerant of both drought and air pollution.


Pests and diseases

Skimmias are fed on by aphids, Horse Chestnut Scale, Garden Leafhopper, and Southern Red Mite.


Species and subspecies[1]

A large number of cultivars have been selected for garden use:[1]

  • Skimmia japonica 'Emerald King'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Fragrans'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Godrie's Dwarf'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Keessen'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Kew White'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Nymans'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Rubella'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Rubinetta'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Ruby Dome'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Wanto'
  • Skimmia japonica 'White Gerpa'
  • Skimmia japonica 'Veitchii'
  • Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana 'Ruby King'
  • Skimmia × confusa 'Kew Green' (S. anquetilia × S. japonica)



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.

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