Photinia species (Red Robin)
Species: There is about 40–60 species
Common names: Photinia, Christmas berry, Red Robin
Photinia is a genus of small trees and large shrubs, but the taxonomy has recently varied greatly, with the genera Heteromeles, Stranvaesia and Aronia sometimes included in Photinia.
They are a part of the rose family (Rosaceae) and related to the apple. The botanical genus name derives from the Greek word photeinos for shiny and refers to the often glossy leaves. Most species are evergreen, but deciduous species also occur. The small apple-shaped fruit has a size of 4 to 12 mm and forms in large quantities. They ripen in the fall and often remain hanging on the bush until well into the winter. The fruits are used as food by birds, which excrete the seeds with their droppings and thereby distribute the plant.
The natural range of these species is restricted to warm temperate Asia, from the Himalaya east to Japan and south to India and Thailand. They have, however, been widely cultivated throughout the world as ornamentals for their white flowers and red fruits. The red colour of the new leaves in spring, contrasted against the dark evergreen older leaves, has given the plant the popular name Red Robin to the cultivar Photinia fraseri.
Warning: some varieties of Photinia are toxic due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides in the foliage and fruit.
Photinia fraseri (Red Robin), showing the red colour of new growth contrasted to the glossy green older leaves.