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2815 Views 9 Replies Last post: Jan 10, 2017 7:19 PM by lucy RSS
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Jan 2, 2017 8:40 PM

Deciduous red berries, small white flowers - ID please

Hi there,


I have a plant/shurb/tree in my garden and I have no idea what it is. I'm uploading two photos: the one with the flowers was taken in July; the one showing the berries was taken in November.


Thank you very much for any help you will be able to provide.


Best wishes,



  • Hi,

    your small tree looks like Stransvaesia davidiana (sometimes known as Photinia). It is quite similar to Cotoneaster frigidus but the texture and glossiness of the foliage is rather different.



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    • Now, see, Dr Fred, that's how I used to spell and pronounce it. And many other folk.

      But the accumulated wisdom of Google, The Plant List, et al. has it as Stranvaesia - no 's' in the middle.

      Lindley coined the name by derivation from  William Thomas Horner Fox-Strangways, a 19th Century English botanist.


      And to further undermine our confidence, Wiki states re Stranvaesia 'Its morphology is so similar to Photinia that it has sometimes been included within that genus, but recent molecular data indicate that the two genera are not related.', citing

      Campbell, C.S.; Evans, R.C.; Morgan, D.R.; Dickinson, T.A.; Arsenault, M.P. (2007). Phylogeny of subtribe Pyrinae (formerly the Maloideae, Rosaceae): Limited resolution of a complex evolutionary history. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 119–145


      We live and learn...

      ...then sometimes need to forget and learn anew.

      But this time the cynic in our brain thinks: "Let's write it just in pencil this time"!



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      • Firstly ...oops for the extraneous S - thanks Mike. I should engage brain and better typing finger!

        Your plant is definitely Stranvaesia davidiana and not a Photinia.

        The main differences between Stranvaesia and Cotoneaster would appear to be that in the latter the carpel walls become stony in fruit whereas in the former they are softer and more cartilagineous. Cotonesters have 1-5 +/- free styles whereas in Stranvaesia the 5 styles are fused for about a third of their length.



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        • Hi all,


          My first thought was Cotoneaster, and was interested to see it identified as Stranvaesia. However, it is many years since I've seen Stranvaesia so I tend to forget about it.


          The description of deciduous, and the picture of the berries showing yellow leaves has been bothering me though, so I double checked and Stranvaesia is evergreen. The older leaves can turn red in the autumn/winter which I can recall seeing. I would also say that I think I can remember the leaf veining being less obvious, but I'm less sure about that.


          Cotoneasters can be difficult to distinguish but I would suggest C. x watereri 'John Waterer' or something of that ilk.


          Please let me know whether you agree or disagree.



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            Jan 4, 2017 11:13 PM (in response to lucy)
            Re: Deciduous red berries, small white flowers - ID please

            Hi Lucy,

            That's a really good point and on reflection you're probably right. My initial thought had been Cotoneaster but I got spooked by the appearance of the foliage.


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            • Arianna,


              I have have remembered another point which will be useful in spring. The leaves of Stranvaesia are red when they emerge, those of Cotoneaster are green. I should add that Cotoneaster John Waterer is semi-evergreen rather than fully deciduous so I would expect it to still have some leaves. It can vary according to situation and the severity of the winter.


              By the way, interesting discussion on the spelling of the name Stranvaesia. Similarly I used to know Penstemon with an extra "t" - Pentstemon. Also, there to seems to be some disagreement on one of the summer bedding plants, I knew it first as Brachyscome, then without the "s" - Brachycome. It seems the former might be correct.

              The one I find hard to accept because I didn't notice until I was about 40, and then had it pointed out to me, is the correct spelling of Aubretia, which should be Aubrieta. It was probably one of the first garden plants I learned as a child, and whenever I saw it written down I obviously saw what I wanted it to say! I have to call it Aubretia though, and just accept it as the common name.



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                • If you think the berries have been eaten by birds that also points towards Cotoneaster as apparently they don't particularly like Stranvaesia berries.

                  The flower difference and young growth colour will hopefully allow you to decide in the spring.


                  If it is a Cotoneaster, they are easy-going plants, largely trouble free, though they can get scale insects, woolly aphid, and fireblight.



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