Pieris (genus of plants)

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Japanese lavender heather (Pieris japonica)

Japanese lavender heather ( Pieris japonica )

Nuclear eudicotyledons
Order : Heather-like (Ericales)
Family : Heather family (Ericaceae)
Genre : Pieris
Scientific name
D. Don

Pieris is a genus of the heather family , also known as lavender heather and shadow bells. The term lavender heather is also used for rosemary heather . The name Pieris goes back to the Pieriden (muses) .


The species are evergreen shrubs, small trees and, more rarely, lianas.

The leathery leaves are arranged in a spiral, but are often also in false whorls , less often in threefold whorls. The leaf margin is whole to strongly serrated.

The white, sometimes pink, urn-shaped to cylindrical urn-shaped flowers are in multi-flowered, axillary or terminal panicles or racemes . The calyx is deeply divided into five calyx tips. The corolla tube , however, is only very briefly divided into five lobes. On the back of the anthers above the connection with the stamens there is a pair of spur-like attachments.

The flower buds are already created in autumn, remain closed through winter and only open in spring.

The fruits are five-column split capsules that contain relatively small seeds.

Distribution and location requirements

Pieris japonica , urn-shaped flowers of a reddish cultivated form
Pieris nana

The seven species of the genus are native to East Asia, eastern North America and the Caribbean.

Most species grow as undergrowth in thickets and dense forests, preferably in not too dry places.


All parts of the plant above ground are poisonous. The most important toxin is the diterpene ester Acetylandromedol , which causes itching and burning sensation on the skin and after consumption leads to nausea and vomiting, severe intestinal cramps and diarrhea. Correspondingly high doses can also be lethal due to respiratory paralysis .


The genus includes the following species:

  • American lavender heather ( Pieris floribunda (Pursh) Benth. & Hook. F. ), A species up to 2.5 m high from the mountain forests of North America .
  • Pieris formosa (Wall.) D. Don ; it occurs in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam and in China
  • Japanese lavender heather ( Pieris japonica (Thunb.) D. Don ex G. Don ), a tree up to 4 m high in the forests of East Asia. It is native to Japan, Taiwan and China and thrives there at altitudes between 800 and 1900 meters.
  • Pieris nana (Maxim.) Makino (Syn .: Arcterica nana (Maxim.) Makino , Andromeda nana Maxim. ); it occurs in Japan
  • Pieris phillyreifolia (Hook.) DC. ; it occurs in the southeastern United States
  • Pieris swinhoei Hemsl. ; it occurs in the Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong .


Three species, the American lavender heather ( Pieris floribunda ), the Japanese lavender heather ( Pieris japonica ) and Pieris formosa are used as ornamental shrubs. They are hardy and prefer a partially shaded place with a more acidic soil.


Web links

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