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(Skimmia japonica)

S. fragrantissima. S. oblata.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Skimmia japonica

Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre apart each way[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    The poisonous stems are carminative, restorative and tonic[178, 218].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    A poisonous alkaloid called 'skimmianin' is found in all parts of the plant[211].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – can be sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[K]. It also succeeds when sown in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a shady position in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If there is sufficient seed then it can be sown can be in an outdoor seedbed in early spring[200]. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for a couple of years before planting them out in late autumn or early spring. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a cold frame[11]. Cuttings of nearly mature side shoots, 7 – 10cm with a heel, September in a cold frame. Slow to root, they should be left for 18 months before moving to their permanent positions. Good percentage[78]. Layering in autumn. Takes 18 months. Good to high percentage[78].
Succeeds in a well-drained open loam or in a peaty soil[11, 200] preferring a rich slightly acid soil[184]. Thrives in moderately shady positions[11, 200] but also succeeds in full sun where the leaves may be rather yellow but the plant will flower and fruit better[200]. Plants are very tolerant of atmospheric pollution[184], being unharmed by deposits of soot or a sulphur-laden atmosphere[245]. Plants are hardy to about -15¡c[184]. Often cultivated in the ornamental garden, there are many named varieties. The flowers have a sweet perfume[245]. Those of male forms are more aromatic than females[1], whilst the variety ‘Fragrans’ has a stronger scent like lily of the valley[245]. The bruised leaves are pleasantly aromatic[245]. The fruit is seldom eaten by birds, usually hanging on the plant until it flowers the following year[182]. A polymorphic species, it is usually dioecious but some forms are hermaphrodite, especially in ssp. reevesiana. (Fortune.)N.P.Taylor.&Airey Shaw[200]. This sub-species is intolerant of chalky soils[182] and is also much taller than the type. Another report says that it is smaller and weaker-growing than the type species[188].
E. Asia – Japan.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.