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A small genus of more or less aromatic twining shrubs, one species in N. America, the others in E. and S.E. Asia. Leaves simple, without stipules. Flowers unisexual, the two sexes usually borne on different plants. Floral envelope not fully differentiated into calyx and corolla but consisting of up to about sixteen imbricated segments, the outermost of which are more or less sepaloid. Stamens five to fifteen, often partly connate, sometimes united by their filaments into a fleshy head. Carpels numerous, at first crowded but later becoming separated by the elongation of the floral axis and forming when ripe a spike-like infrutescence. In the related Kadsura the ripe carpels remain clustered in a globose or ellipsoid head.
The type-species of the genus is S. glabra (Brickell) Rehd. (S. coccinea Michx.), a native of the south-eastern USA. This was introduced to Britain in 1806 and found to be moderately hardy on a wall but seems to have dropped out of cultivation. Allied to it is S. repanda (Sieb. & Zucc.) Radlkofer (S. nigra Maxim.), a native of Japan and S. Korea, a probably quite hardy species with blue-black fruits.
The species mentioned below are all hardy except S. propinqua. They like a rich garden soil and can be increased by cuttings of half-ripened wood in mild bottom heat.
The genus Schisandra was revised by A. C. Smith in Sargentia, Vol. 7 (1947). PP. 86-156.