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PHOTINIA serrulata

Image of Photinia serrulata

Gerald L. Klingaman



Botanical Name

PHOTINIA serrulata

Plant Common Name

Japanese Photinia

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Genus Photinia is comprised of approximately 50 species of plants native to the warm and temperate regions of eastern and southern Asia. Most are either small trees or large shrubs and may be deciduous or evergreen.

Photinia leaves are generally glossy, oval or lance-shaped, alternately arranged on the stems and have serrate edges– like that of a steak knife. They may be thick and leathery or paper thin, depending on the species. New foliage is often red or bronze when it emerges, and deciduous species often have bright fall foliage in various shades.

The flowers commonly appear in spring and are produced at the ends of the branches in dense, often flat-topped clusters. Each small bloom is slightly cup-shaped, has five rounded petals and many stamens. In fall, these give way to small apple-like fruits that usually turn red when ripe. Birds are fond of the fruit and several species of butterflies use the foliage for larval food.

The most popular species is Chinese photinia (Photinia serratifolia) a small evergreen tree with lovely red-brown bark and bronze to red new leaves. Japanese photinia (Photinia glabra), another popular choice, is a large, evergreen shrub with thick waxy leaves and red to bronze new foliage. The most favored hybrid is Photinia x fraseri, or red-tip photina, which is a cross between Photinia serratifolia and Photinia glabra.

Most species prefer rich, good draining soil on the acid side. Full sun is best for good growth, though these plants are tolerant of light to moderate shade, particularly in hot humid climates. Hardiness and cold tolerance is species dependent, though some are quite hardy and can withstand extended cold.

Often tolerant of city conditions, many Photina are extensively planted in urban areas like parking lots. Unfortunately, increasing susceptibility to pests, particularly leafspot disease caused by the fungus Entomosporium mespili which tatters the leaves and eventually defoliates the plants, have reduced the popularity of these shrubs.

Large stature, attractive foliage and a tough prunable character have made common ornamental Photina popular for hedges and screens in temperate regions. Most species are grown for the landscape; however the wood is generally very dense, hard and suitable for furniture.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Eastern Asia, Southern Asia, Southeastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Screening / Wind Break, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing