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A deciduous shrub up to 12 or 15 ft high, with spreading branches; young shoots angled, zigzag, minutely downy. Leaves oval and ovate to somewhat obovate, tapered at both ends, usually more slenderly at the apex, finely toothed, 1 to 3 in. long, 1⁄3 to 1 in. wide; dull green above, and soft with minute down when young, becoming glabrous later; covered with a more conspicuous, persistent down and prominently veined beneath; stalk 1⁄3 in. or less long, downy. Flowers inconspicuous in axillary clusters. Fruits red, globose, 1⁄6 in. diameter; nutlets smooth.
Native of Japan and China; apparently introduced for the first time in 1893 to Kew from Yokohama, but known in the United States since about 1866. It is quite hardy, and bears good crops of fruit. It has very much the aspect of the North American I. verticillata, but is not so ornamental, the fruits being smaller and scarcely so bright; its leaves are also more finely toothed. Sargent observes that the leafless branches are sold in immense quantities in Tokyo for house decoration; for this purpose they are admirably suited, as the berries hang on and retain their colour a long time.