(Japanese Ardisia, Marlberry)
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Ardisia japonica, commonly known as Japanese ardisia or marlberry, is a low-growing, coarsely-textured, stoloniferous, woody evergreen shrub which spreads by underground runners to produce a succession of upright stems rising to 8-12” tall. Stems are clad with thick, glossy, leathery, serrulate-margined, opposite or subwhorled, elliptic to lanceolate leaves (each to 3” long) which are densely concentrated near the branch ends. It is native to mixed forests or bamboo woods, hillsides, and dark damp places in southeastern China, Japan and Korea. Japanese ardisia will rapidly spread by suckers to form a dense ground cover shrub for shady areas of the landscape. It can produce large colonies over time. Small, five-petaled, white to pale pink flowers (each to 3/8” diameter) bloom in July-August in 3-5 flowered panicles. Flowers are followed by showy red drupes which ripen to black in fall.
This plant is one of the 50 Fundamental herbs in Chinese medicine. It is used for a large number of different medical applications including treatment of bronchitis.