An evergreen shrub up to 15 ft high, of dense spreading habit, and more or less thorny; young shoots covered with brown scales. Leaves leathery, oval or oblong, 11⁄2 to 4 in. long, 1⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. wide, often blunt at the apex, rounded at the base, margins wavy, upper surface dark green and glossy, sprinkled with scales when young, afterwards glabrous, lower surface dull white dotted with large brownish scales; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, brown like the young wood and midrib. Flowers pendulous, 1⁄2 in. long, the tubular portion widening abruptly above the ovary; silvery white, fragrant, clustered often in threes in the leaf-axils, and opening in October and November. Fruit 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, at first brown-scaly with the perianth persisting, red when ripe; rarely seen in Britain.
Native of Japan; perfectly hardy near London. It is often grown as E. glabra, a distinct species (q.v. for the differences). The fragrance of the flower is like that of gardenias.
cv. ‘Aurea’. – Leaves margined with rich yellow. Rev. Hort. Belg., Vol. 14, p. 356 (1864), as E. p. foliis aureo-marginatis. In ‘Dicksonii’ the golden margin is broad, and some leaves are wholly golden in the upper third.
cv. ‘Frederici’. – Leaves rather small and narrow, the cream-coloured or pale yellow centre bordered with a thin margin of glossy dark green. First described in 1888 as “E. frederici variegata” and probably introduced by Siebold. Also known as E. p. aureo-picta.
cv. ‘Maculata’. – A richly coloured form, whose large leaves are sometimes 41⁄2 in. long and 21⁄4 in. wide, variously marked with deep yellow, much richer than the yellow of’Frederici’. The coloured patch is always in the centre, but varies in size; often there is only a thin border of dark green, sometimes only one side of the midrib is coloured. Between the yellow and the green there are frequently patches of an intermediate yellowish shade. This shrub is probably the most ornamental and striking of all variegated evergreens. Its effect in midwinter is bright and pleasing. Like many variegated shrubs with the colouring in the centre of the leaf, it is liable to revert to the green type; shoots showing this disposition must be cut away. It was given a First Class Certificate when shown by Veitch in 1891, but its origin is uncertain. The name adopted here appears to be the correct one, but it is also known as E. p. aureo-variegata.
cv. ‘Simonii’. – Leaves larger than in the type, very silvery beneath, with few brownish scales. Rev. Hort., 1869, p. 100, as “E. simonii”.
cv. ‘Variegata’. – Leaves with a yellow border like ‘Aurea’, but of a paler shade. Origin unknown.
E. × reflexa Morr. & Decne. E. pungens var. reflexa (Morr. & Decne.) Schneid. – A hybrid between E. pnngens and E. glabra. It is less thorny than E. pungens; leaves very brown-scaly beneath; margins not wavy. Like the second parent, it will climb when planted under trees.