Photinia Lindl.

(incl. Stranvaesia Lindl.)

The generic limits of Photinia have long been controversial. According to Potter & al. (2007) it should be maintained as a separate genus. Others have included it in a broadly circumscribed genus Aronia (Mabberley 2008). In Potter & al. l.c. Stranvaesia – usually included in Photinia – is also reinstalled at generic level (see also Phipps 1990, Lingdi & Spongberg 2003 a, b). However, this is in discordance with more recent phylogenetic studies (Guo & al. 2011): all phylogenetic trees produced indicated that Stranvaesia should be merged into Photinia, while Pourthiaea and Aronia should be delimited as two separate genera. The separation of Stranvaesia from Photinia is also poorly supported on morphological grounds. Both genera are indeed very similar and one of the main distinguishing features (carpel dehiscence) appears to be unreliable (Lingdi & Spongberg 2003 a, b). Also, hybrids are easily produced between Photinia and Stranvaesia. A common cultivar of Photinia davidiana (cv ‘Redstar’) is believed to be such a hybrid. According to Gardner & Knees (1995) Aronia and Photinia differ on stamen number (respectively less than 25 and numerous) but this does not hold true (ca. 20 in all species concerned in both genera in the present account). The three Belgian representatives of Photinia s.l. (incl. Stranvaesia) (all non-native species) are readily told apart: Photinia s.str. counts two deciduous species with leaves with toothed margins whereas the single species of Stranvaesia is evergreen and has leaves with entire margins.

As currently circumscribed Photinia s.l. probably counts about 60-70 species (Lingdi & Spongberg 2003 a, b). These are predominantly native in East, South and Southeast Asia. Several species are cultivated as ornamentals, especially for their colorful foliage. Gardner & Knees (1995) enumerate 14 species for European gardens but only few are more or less widespread (see De Koning & al. 2000, Roloff & Bärtels 2006). The berries of Photinia are eaten by birds and hence easily dispersed. More frequent occurrences, in addition to the few known so far, are not unlikely.

A fourth species of Photinia/Stranvaesia is frequently cultivated and could have been overlooked: P. xfraseri Dress (= P. glabra (Thunb.) Maxim. x P. serratifolia (Desf.) Kalkman) (see also Dress 1961). Like Stranvaesia davidiana it is an evergreen shrub but its leaf margins have fine forward-pointing teeth. It was recently recorded as an escape in the British Isles (Wilmore 2000).

1       Evergreen. Leaves with entire margins === Photinia davidiana

         Deciduous. Leaf margins toothed === 2

2       Inflorescence branches glabrous. Lower leaf surface glabrous with 8-14 veins. Leaf margin with gland-tipped teeth === P. beauverdiana

         Inflorescence branches villous. Lower leaf surface persistently hairy with 5-7 veins. Leaf margins without gland-tipped teeth === P. villosa


De Koning J., Van den Broek J.W., Van de Laar H.J. & Fortgens G. (2000) Nederlandse dendrologie (13e druk). H. Veenman & zonen, Ede: 585 p.

Dress W.J. (1961) Photinia x fraseri, a new hybrid. Baileya 9: 101-103.

Gardner M.F. & Knees S.G. (1995) Photinia. In: Cullen J. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 4. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 424-426.

Guo W., Yu Y., Shen R., Liao W., Chin S. & Potter D. (2011) A phylogeny of Photinia sensu lato (Rosaceae) and related genera based on nrITS and cpDNA analysis. Plant Syst. Evol. 291: 91-102.

Kalkman C. (1973) The Malesian species of the subfamily Maloideae (Rosaceae). Blumea 21: 413-442.

Li G., Lu L.T. & Li C.L. (1992) Leaf architecture of the Photinia complex (Rosaceae : Maloideae) with special reference to its phenetic and phylogenetic significance. Cathaya 4: 21-56.

Lingdi L. & Spongberg S.A. (2003a) Photinia. In: Wu Z.Y. & Raven P.H. (eds.), Flora of China, vol. 9. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis: 121-137. [available online at:]

Lingdi L. & Spongberg S.A. (2003b) Stranvaesia. In: Wu Z.Y. & Raven P.H. (eds.), Flora of China, vol. 9. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis: 119-121. [available online at:]

Lu L.T., Li C.L. & Li G. (1990) Pollen morphology of Photinia (Rosaceae) and its systematic significance. Cathaya 2: 127-138.

Lu L.T., Wang Z.L. & Li G. (1991) The significance of the leaf epidermis in the taxonomy of the Photinia complex (Rosaceae : Maloideae). Cathaya 3: 93-108.

Mabberley D.J. (2008) Mabberley’s plant-book (3th ed.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: XVIII + 1021 p.

Nesom G. (2014) Photinia. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (eds.), Flora of North America, vol. 9. Oxford University Press, New York-Oxford: 488-491. [available online at:]

Phipps J. B., Robertson K.R., Smith P.G. & Rohrer J.R. (1990) A checklist of the subfamily Maloideae (Rosaceae). Can. J. Bot. 68: 2209-2269.

Potter D., Eriksson T., Evans R.C., Oh S., Smedmark J.E.E., Morgan D.R., Kerr M., Robertson K.R., Arsenault M., Dickinson T.A. & Campbell C.S. (2007) Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Pl. Syst. Evol. 266: 5-43. [available online at:]

Roloff A. & Bärtels A. (2006) Flora der Gehölze (2e Auflage). Ulmer, Stuttgart: 844 p.

Wilmore G.T.D. (2000) Alien plants of Yorkshire. Nats. Union, Bradford.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith