An evergreen shrub or small tree of densely leafy, bushy habit 10 to 15, sometimes 25 ft high, free from down in all its parts. Leaves obovate to narrowly oval, 1 to 3 in. long, 3⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. wide; leathery, dark polished green, tapered at the base, usually blunt or rounded at the apex, obscurely round-toothed; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers 1⁄3 in. across, four-parted, greenish white, five to twelve in stoutly stalked cymes. Fruit glabrous, globose, 1⁄3 in. across, pinkish; aril pale orange.
Native of Japan; introduced in 1804. Although tender in cold districts, this species is hardy over the south of England, only occasionally being injured. It is a handsome and cheerful evergreen much used in south coast watering-places for hedges, where the sea air seems to suit it.
cv. ‘Albomarginatus’. – Leaves with a thin margin of white.
cv. ‘Aureus’. – Centre of leaf bright yellow with only a marginal line of dark green. Like many shrubs with this type of variegation, it is very apt to revert to the green type.
cv. ‘Duc d’Anjou’. – leaves dark green, marked with yellowish and greyish green.
cv. ‘Latifolius Albomarginatus’. – Leaves broadly oval with a wide margin of white. Also known as ‘Latifolius Variegatus’ and ‘Macrophyllus Albus’.
cv. ‘Macrophyllus’. – Leaves green, larger than in the type. Introduced from Japan by Siebold and thence to this country by Henderson’s nursery, St John’s Wood. ‘Latifolius’, introduced by Veitch’s nursery, is similar.
cv. ‘Microphyllus’. – A very distinct, dwarf, small-leaved form, 1 to 3 ft high, with quite erect branches; leaves dark green, oval-lanceolate, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄3 in. wide. More tender than the type. Introduced by Siebold.
cv. ‘Microphyllus Pulchellus’. – Leaves very small, variegated with gold.
cv. ‘Ovatus Aureus’. – Perhaps the best of the golden variegated forms; Leaves oval or ovate, with a broad, irregular margin of rich yellow, which suffuses into the green centre.
There are numerous other forms slightly different from the above. E. japonicus and all its varieties need a soil of moderate richness only; they are all easily rooted from cuttings.