Here is a plant possessing some of the best multi-season interest of any tree and yet it is hardly ever encountered. Its name is Idesia polycarpa.

Idesia is a genus of flowering plants in the Willow family Salicaceae, comprising the single species Idesia polycarpa and is native to eastern Asia: China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

This medium-sized tree is one of the most prolific berry-producers in existence. The fruits are not only produced copiously but they’re a very eye-catching scarlet that stands out dramatically against clear, blue winter skies. And not only are they attractive, but they’re edible as well. They ripen to a dark purple and are a true blessing to wildlife. These clusters are the result of richly perfumed flowers which wafts far and wide on warm breezes. It is also a rapid grower with large leaves and exceptionally handsome, smooth bark, so pale that it resembles a Himalayan birch.

Idesia is an ornamental tree of the very first order. It is dioecious, meaning both male and female plants must be grown for fruit production, although female plants have been known to produce some fruit in the absence of a male pollinator. It reaches a height of up to 50 feet tall by 25 feet wide. It prefers a neutral to slightly acid loamy soil, moist but well-drained. It succeeds in full sun or semi-shade. It is grown in the UK, most of the US, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

As usual, this special tree will not be found in the popular landscape nurseries but more likely in a specialty, mail-order, plant nursery.



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