Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
One of the glories of a visit to Wave Hill in winter is the sight of our idesia trees, loaded with their orange-red berries.
Native to China and southern Japan, the idesia (Idesia polycarpa) is a medium-sized tree. In summer, when both the foliage and developing berries are green, it is not especially noticeable. But once the berries have ripened and the leaves have dropped, the tree is unmissable.
It is a dioecious species, meaning that individual trees are either male or female and both are necessary in order for there to be berries—pollen from a male tree must be available to fertilize the flowers of the female. Because of this, multiple trees must be planted together, and this explains why it is seldom seen outside large estates and botanic gardens: few private yards have room for a grove of idesia!
Our trees are located just to the south of Wave Hill House, shown here first, and in the Shade Border, close to the Aquatic Garden.