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Toxic parts

A poisonous alkaloid called 'skimmianin' is found in all parts of the plant[1].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Skimmia japonica.

Material uses

Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre apart each way[2].
There are no material uses listed for Skimmia japonica.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The poisonous stems are carminative, restorative and tonic[3][4].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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[5]. 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[6]. 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[7].

Layering in autumn. Takes 18 months. Good to high percentage[7].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Skimmia japonica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in a well-drained open loam or in a peaty soil[6][5] preferring a rich slightly acid soil[8]. Thrives in moderately shady positions[6][5] but also succeeds in full sun where the leaves may be rather yellow but the plant will flower and fruit better[5]. Plants are very tolerant of atmospheric pollution[8], being unharmed by deposits of soot or a sulphur-laden atmosphere[9].

Plants are hardy to about -15°c[8]. Often cultivated in the ornamental garden, there are many named varieties. The flowers have a sweet perfume[9]. Those of male forms are more aromatic than females[10], whilst the variety 'Fragrans' has a stronger scent like lily of the valley[9]. The bruised leaves are pleasantly aromatic[9]. The fruit is seldom eaten by birds, usually hanging on the plant until it flowers the following year[11].

A polymorphic species, it is usually dioecious but some forms are hermaphrodite, especially in ssp. reevesiana. (Fortune.)N.P.Taylor.&Airey Shaw[5]. This sub-species is intolerant of chalky soils[11] and is also much taller than the type. Another report says that it is smaller and weaker-growing than the type species[12].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Skimmia japonica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Skimmia japonica.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Skimmia japonica
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    2 x 2 meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Coventry. B. O. Wild Flowers of Kashmir Raithby, Lawrence and Co. (1923-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover J. M. Dent & Sons ISBN 0-460-12609-1 (1990-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    4. ? 4.04.1 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    5. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    6. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    8. ? Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs. Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30258-2 (1989-00-00)
    9. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
    10. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
    12. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    13. ? Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation) Smithsonian Institution (1965-00-00)