Four species of evergreen shrubs and trees, generally shade tolerant, slow growing and aromatic; unisexual or bisexual. Leaves are simple, alternate, from obovate to elliptic, glossy green, mostly in terminal clusters. Flowers are white or cream colored, star-shaped, in conical clusters. Fruit are fleshy, red or black (sometimes white), and spherical; in unisexual species both male and female plants are needed to obtain fruit. Native from the Himalayas to southeast Asia, China and Japan.
Skimmia: from the Japanese name, shikimi
Some differences between the two most common Skimmia species:
Rehder, A. 1958, Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs (Hardy in North America), 2nd Ed., Macmillan Co., p. 529.
A. Leaves generally oblong-obovate, obtusely pointed; flowers usually 4-parted, polygamous; fruit subglobose: S. japonica
AA. Leaves generally oblong-lanceolate, acuminate; flowers usually 5-parted and perfect; fruit obovoid: S. ressvesiana