Of the 150 species of evergreen shrubs in this genus, only the following three are commonly grown. All are valued both for attractive foliage and for their beadlike fruit.
A. crenata CORAL ARDISIA. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; or indoors. Native from Japan to northern India. In Florida, coral ardisia is often grown in the ground on the north side of a house or in planters. As a potted plant, it grows 112 ft. tall, single-stemmed, with only bright filtered light and routine care, either in shade outdoors or as a houseplant. In a large pot, it can reach 4 ft. with nearly equal spread. In spring, spirelike clusters of -in., white or pinkish flowers are carried above shiny, wavy-edged, 3-in.-long leaves. 'Alba' has reliably white blossoms. Flowers are followed in autumn by brilliant scarlet fruit that usually hangs on through the winter. Outdoors, plant in partial or full shade.
A. escallonioides (A. paniculata). MARLBERRY. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Slender shrub or small tree to 2025 ft. high, 1012 ft. wide. Native to south Florida. Coarse, lance-shaped, dark green leaves to 6 in. long; fragrant, 14-in., purple-marked white flowers at intervals for much of the year. Small, glossy black fruit. Excellent for coastal gardens; takes salt spray and flourishes in sun or light shade. Tolerates clay and alkaline soils. Needs less water than the other two listed species.
A. japonica. JAPANESE ARDISIA. Zones LS, CS; USDA 8-9. From Japan and China. Prostrate shrub spreads by rhizomes to produce a succession of upright branches that are 512 in. high. A high-quality ground cover in partial or full shade. Leathery bright green leaves to 4 in. long are clustered at the branch tips. White, 14-in. flowers in clusters of two to six appear in fall; these are followed by small, round, bright red fruit that lasts into winter. 'Chirimen' is an especially cold-hardy selection and may survive even in the Middle South. Selections with colorful foliage include 'Amanogawa', with particularly bright red berries and green leaves centered in gold; and 'Hakuokan', bearing green leaves heavily variegated with white on the edges. 'Nishiki' offers gold and pink variegated leaves on new growth.