Ardisia crenata

Coral ardisia

Nonnative to FloridaFlorida Noxious Weed ListFISC Category 1

Origin: Japan to northern India 
TOXIC TO LIVESTOCK – See Poisonous Pasture Plants of Florida (UF-IFAS Bookstore Pub SP 457) by B.A. Sellers and J.A. Ferrell. 2010.

Ardisia crenata, or Coral Ardisia, is a small upright shrub that is used and sold extensively in the horticulture industry as an ornamental plant – often called Christmas berry. Ardisia’s native range includes areas of Japan and northern India. Ardisia escaped cultivation in 1982, spreading into wooded areas. Currently ardisia has established in many counties in northern and central Florida. In the landscape, ardisia is known and grown for its persistent red berries, glossy foliage and low maintenance.


Coral ardisia is a small upright shrub that can grow up to 6 feet in height. Ardisia can be seen growing in clumps, often times multi-stemmed. Leaves are dark green and thick, somewhat glossy, roughly 8 inches long with scalloped margins. The flowers are white or pinkish, borne in axillary clusters. The berries, which are readily eaten by birds, turn a bright coral red color and hang or droop on the plant. Ardisia is usually seen in fairly large colonies with its persistent red berries. Recent research has also shown the presence of large seedling clumps in association with larger plants. These seedlings can remain juvenile for quite some time and once removal of the larger, dominant specimens occurs, the seedlings begin to grow.


Coral ardisia has naturalized in many natural areas across Florida, such as hardwood hammocks, becoming a significant pest. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council lists Coral ardisia as a category I species because of its invasive nature and ability to disrupt native plant communities. Ardisia can potentially shade out native seedling and understory plants, preventing their growth and development. Mature plants are prolific seed producers and can be surrounded by many seedlings, also leading to reduced seed germination of valued native species.

Management Plan


The first step in preventative control of ardisia is to limit planting and removal of existing plants within the landscape. If possible, removal should occur before seeds are produced. Since seeds remain on the plant for several months, care must be exercised to prevent seed spread and dispersal during the removal process.


Cultural management is difficult once the plant has established, but a healthy ground cover will limit seedling establishment.


Mechanical methods can be grouped into several strategies. With small or isolated infestations, hand-pulling is effective for seedling control. Larger plants can be cut or burned, but regrowth from underground rhizomes and root crowns. Disking can be very effective if the disking operation is frequent and sufficiently deep to cut the rhizome/rootstocks. However, the use of disking is very limited due to the type of areas that ardisia is most problematic – woodlands. It must also be noted that any type of mechanical operation, whether it be disking or burning, should be monitored for at least one year to inspect and remove seedlings and/or resprouts.


There are no known biological control agents for ardisia.


In areas with a dense groundcover of seedlings, a broadcast spray of a glyphosate or triclopyr-ester may be effective, generally a 2-3% solution. The waxy leaves of ardisia may limit glyphosate uptake, so a surfactant is recommended. Due to the non-selective nature of glyphosate, use precaution to avoid damaging desirable plants. The woody bark of desirable trees may be contacted, but avoid green bark. Triclopyr herbicide is also very effective, especially on larger, more mature specimens. A low-volume basal application mixed with an oil diluent has shown very promising results. Triclopyr applications containing 18% basal oil is effective. Ardisia is also susceptible to 2,4-D, but more so at the seedling stage or regrowth after cutting/burning of mature plants.