Idesia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Salicaceae (formerly placed in the family Flacourtiaceae), comprising the single species Idesia polycarpa. It is native to eastern Asia in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching a height of 8-21 m, with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter with smooth greyish-green bark. The shoots are greyish-brown, stout, with a thick pith core. The leaves are large, heart-shaped, 8–20 cm long and 7–20 cm broad, with a red 4–30 cm petiole bearing two or more glands; the leaves are dark green above, glaucous below, and have a coarsely serrated margin. The flowers are small, yellowish green, fragrant, and born in panicles 13–30 cm long. It is dioecious with male and female flowers on separate trees; the male flowers are 12–16 mm diameter, the female flowers 9 mm diameter. The fruit is a berry 5–10 mm diameter, ripening orange to dark purple-red, containing several 2–3 mm brown seeds, and often persisting until the following spring.
Cultivation and uses
The fruit is edible either raw or cooked.
The species is occasionally grown as an ornamental tree in other temperate regions including Europe.
Trees, 8-21 m tall; bark grayish, not flaking; branchlets sparsely pubescent or glabrous. Petiole reddish, usually long, (4-)5-15 cm or more, glabrous, base slightly dilated; leaf blade deep green adaxially, broadly ovate, (6-)8-16(-20) × (4-)7-15(-20) cm, thinly leathery, abaxially pruinose, with a small dense patch of hairs at extreme base, elsewhere glabrous, sparsely hairy along veins or pubescent throughout, hairs (except in basal patch) mostly spreading, short, drying whitish or yellowish; adaxially usually glabrous, rarely sparsely hairy along midvein and main veins or throughout, lateral veins ca. 6 pairs, blade usually 5(-7)-veined from base, base cordate, often deeply so, less often rounded, margin serrate, usually coarsely so, apex gradually or more abruptly acuminate. Panicles (13-)20-30 cm; rachis sparsely to more densely pubescent. Flowers unisexual, yellowish green; pedicels 1-1.5 cm, densely pubescent, hairs appressed, yellowish brown, short; bracts lanceolate, 3-10 mm, reducing in size toward apex of rachis, papery, toothed or lobed. Staminate flowers: slightly larger than pistillate ones, 1.2-1.6 cm in diam.; sepals 5-6 × 2-3 mm, ovate to elliptic or slightly obovate, both surfaces densely pubescent, hairs yellowish brown, appressed, short; stamens 5-6 mm; filaments pubescent in lower half, hairs crisped, white when dry; disk glands globose to truncate, small, glabrous. Pistillate flowers: ca. 9 mm in diam.; sepals as in staminate flowers but slightly smaller, 4-5 × ca. 2.5 mm; disk glands globose to truncate, small; ovary superior, globose, glabrous; styles 5 or 6, 0.5-2 mm, joined at base; stigmas 0.5-1 mm in diam. Berry purple-red or orange-red when mature, drying blackish, globose, 8-10 mm in diam., apical scar left by styles pale, circular, flat, small, 0.5-1 mm in diam.; pericarp thin, brittle when dry; stalk 0.6-2 cm. Seeds drying reddish brown or purplish brown, broadly ovoid, 2-3 mm, completely enclosed in a thin, translucent membrane. Fl. Apr-May, fr. Oct-Nov.
Deciduous broad-leaved forests, needle-leaved and broad-leaved mixed forests; 400-3000 m. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Shandong, Sichuan, Yunnan, Taiwan, Zhejiang [Japan, Korea]. Idesia polycarpa is grown as an ornamental.