Skimmia Thunb. (1788), in the family Rutaceae, contains around 4 species in eastern Asia.
Description Trees to 13m, or shrubs, with green twigs. The leaves are alternate, evergreen, aromatic, simple and untoothed, near the ends of each year’s growth. The flowers are usually unisexual, green, reddish, or white, slightly scented, in bunches at the tips of the shoots, the males and females generally on different plants. Sepals 4 or 5; petals 4 or 5. Stamens 4 or 5. Ovary superior, with 2–5 fused cells, each with 1 ovule; style short. Pollination is by bees. The fruits are red or black, with 1–4 seeds.
Key Recognition Features The smooth leaves at the tips of the branches and the pyramidal heads of small flowers or berries.
Evolution and Relationships Skimmia is not close to any of the other hardy Rutaceae.
Ecology and Geography In forests from the western Himalayas to China and Japan.
Comment Many species and cultivars are grown as small ornamental evergreens for their flowers in spring and, in female plants, showy fruits through the winter.