Japanese maples and red berries

Last Saturday I went for my first hike with a group of hikers to a nearby hills and forest called the “Momiji Road” (Maple Road). Although we were late by about two weeks in witnessing the splash of autumn colors, I did find the remnants of autumn colors pleasing and personally had a good time hiking through woods and observing the vegetation. I focused my attention this time on red berries.


View from top of the hill – Kanozan and the Yokohoma-Kawasaki skyline beyond

Let me share some of the autumn scenes during the hike with you.

Hike through maples

Hiking through glorious Japanese maple trees

We walked through in a file delighted at nature’s colors. I wish we had made this two weeks earlier when the autumn leaves were in full array!

Autumn offering

Dense concentration of maple leaves


Towering maple

Throughout the hike, I came across various kinds of red berries and picked up some of them.

Oriental bittersweet 

Oriental bittersweet (Tsuru ume modoki in Japanese)

This is a deciduous, climbing, woody plant with clusters of inconspicuous yellowish flowers producing green/yellow fruits which split in Autumn to reveal showy bright red seeds. The Japanese name is “Tsuru ume modoki.” It appears to be an invasive species. Highly ornamental and can be used in wreaths. I’m planning to propagate the plant with the red seeds, but would probably do it in planters.



Coral berry or Coral Ardisia (Manryo in Japanese)

On top of the hill was a solitary house where the old man grew all kinds of vegetables and flowers. I found this plant in his sunlit garden. The coral berry is a familiar sight in Japanese gardens in winter. My neighbor has at least ten of them in her gardens. The dark green, serrated leaves are glossy and very attractive. The berries, which hang down in clusters, are quite showy as they ripen and turn to shades of coral and finally bright scarlet. There are similar varieties in Japan called “Senryo” in Japanese (Sarcandra glabra) and “Hyakuryo” (Ardisia crispa) and even “Juryryo” (Japanese ardisia).



 I found many of these shrubs growing by the sides of the hills as we walked the narrow paths. Called the “Aoki” in Japanese, the bright red berries lit up the surroundings. I picked a few and hope to propagate this plant.

According to Wikipedia:

“They are evergreen shrubs or small trees 2-13 m tall, similar in appearance to the laurels of the genus Laurus, having glossy, leathery leaves, and are sometimes mistakenly called laurels.


Japanese Aucuba (Photo courtsey: Wikipedia)

Rosa multiflora

Rosa Multiflora (Japanese name “Noibara”)

Found this plant too growing in the wild and picked up a few branches. Rosa multiflora is grown as an ornamental plant. It is also used as rootstock for grafting roses. I’m not sure how well it propagates, but I intend to try with the seeds I picked up!

Until the next post, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and season’s greetings!

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12 Responses to “Japanese maples and red berries”

  1. December 15, 2009 at 3:28 am

    Beautiful hike! Love all the red berries! I recently learned the the Japanese Bittersweet is invasive here, but I still like it.

    • December 16, 2009 at 3:03 pm

      Funny, I never paid attention to these red berries – they seem to be a permanent feature in almost all my neighbors’ gardens! This hike has opened my eyes to red berries! I also found after a visit to a nursery that the berries on my blog are a little different from the holly – which I think is popular during Christmas in the US. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. December 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I am so glad I found your blog! Your hike must have been inspirational. I am a huge fan of Japanese maples, and they grow well in my southeast USA garden. I also like to plant shrubs and trees that provide berries for wildlife.

  3. December 19, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I was in the mood for just such a hike this morning, so I thank you for taking me along!
    Happy holiday season,
    all best,
    aka Bay Area Tendrils

  4. December 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for taking us along on your hike. It was a great respite from all the snow and cold temperatures here in Alaska.

    CB from the Last Frontier Garden in Anchorage

  5. December 23, 2009 at 10:17 am

    What an amazing hike – I just love all those maples – the colours in your photos really jump out at me. We have Ardisia as a Christmas houseplant in the UK due to its berries as its too tender to live outdoors all year around. The oriental bittersweet looks very interesting – never seen that before.

  6. 10 sequoiagardens
    January 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I’m so pleased I went searching at the very bottom of my list of favourites, which I never get to because of time constraints, and there were your two posts. How I’ve enjoyed them: playing with seeds and walking in the wilds in Japan. Two WOW activities, the former a lot easier for most of us than the latter!

  7. February 18, 2010 at 5:44 am

    I’m Rita from Indonesia. Wow very exotic photo. Glad to have found your this blog and waiting for the next postings.

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