Here is a small tree that is loaded with attributes, yet hardly ever planted. It is Sapphireberry, or Symplocos paniculata. Sapphireberry is a large shrub or small tree. The bark on mature specimens has gray ridges and dark fissures. The growth habit is spreading, and low-branching and typically grows to 20 feet with handsome foliage, dark green to 3 inches long. Sapphireberry bears fragrant, cream-white flowers, 1/2 inch wide, which are borne on 2 to 3 inch panicles in early spring. But the real show is saved for autumn when sapphire blue fruit, 1/3 inch wide, ripens. This fruit is striking to the eye and is eagerly devoured by birds. Several shrubs should be planted for the best production.

It is a superior ornamental tree rarely found in nurseries. Despite its rarity it's not fussy about soil, as long as it's well drained and not bothered by heat, humidity or pests. It’s native to China, Japan, the Himalayas, and grows throughout most of the US, the warmer bits of Canada, the UK, 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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