It is a low-growing, spreading very quickly evergreen shrub 20–40 cm tall. The leaves are opposite or in whorls, ovate, 4–7 cm long and 1.5–4 cm broad, with a sharply serrated margin and an acute apex. The flowers are 4–10 mm diameter, with five (rarely six) white to pale pink petals; they are produced in racemes in late spring. The fruit is a drupe 5–6 mm diameter, red maturing dark purple-black in early winter.
A number of cultivars have been selected for growing as ornamental plants, including 'Hakuokan' and 'Ito Fukurin' with variegated leaves, 'Hinotsukasa', with pale cream-coloured leaves, and 'Matsu Shima' with pink stems and variegated leaves.
Large doses of the plant as medicine can be toxic to the kidneys.
It has escaped from cultivation and established itself in the wild in the United States, in Gainesville, Florida.
- Chinese herbology
- Ardisia crenata, (waxy leaves and red berries) also known as coral bush, coralberry tree, or spiceberry.
- English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 358. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2017 – via Korea Forest Service.
- Flora of China: Ardisia japonica
- Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
- Plants for a Future: Ardisia japonica
- Alternativehealing.org:Ardisia japonica
- 'Wildland Weeds" Summer 2009 p.4 accessed 6 June 2010
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