Cleyera japonica Thunb. (emended Siebold & Zucc.)

Sakaki, Japanese Cleyera

Family: Pentaphylacaceae

Genus: Cleyera

Category: Shrub - Evergreen

Zones: 6b to 8

Size: 8 to 12' tall, 6 to 10' wide

Growth Rate: Moderate

Exposure: Sun, Filtered Sun, Part Shade


Leaves alternate, dark green, lustrous to 4" long, new growth tinted red to bronze. Fragrant white flowers followed by round black fruit. Upright form. Prefers moist, well-drained soil.


'Tokyo Sunrise' - variegated, filtered sun, red to pink new growth, white marginal variegation (Ted Stephens)


Native to China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India and Thailand.

First published in 1783 in Nov. Gen. Pl. (Thunberg) 3: 69. Thunberg included elements of both Cleyera and Ternstroemia in his description of Cleyera japonica. In Trans. Linn. Soc. London 2: 335 in 1794 he transferred C. japonica to Ternstroemia japonica but did not address the problem of the name being based on two different elements. In 1841, Siebold and Zuccarini (Fl. Jap. 153) emended the description of Cleyera japonica to include only the Cleyera element, and in Fl. Jap. 148 emended Ternstroemia's description to include only it's elements.

Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner