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Leycesteria formosa

Pheasant berry

Reader rating

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Key information

Plant type

Deciduous shrub

Flower colour



Colourful bark, Flowers, Fruit, Attractive to wildlife



Skill level


photo by Neil Holmes, copyright GAP Photos (19715)

Plant details

A robust and easily grown shrub from China and Tibet, this is often planted agriculturally as cover for game birds. They love the ripe berries, hence the common name pheasant berry. It is an extremely handsome shrub with a long season of interest, from the time the shapely leaves emerge until berries fall in late autumn: even in winter the stems are a rich and satisfying green. The flowers are the main attraction, clear white inside burgundy-coloured bracts, which persist over the reddish-purple berries. Plants tolerate most soils and may be cut back hard.

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Genus: Leycesteria

Species: formosa

Plant type: Deciduous shrub

Flower colour: White

Foliage colour: Mid-green

Feature: Colourful bark, Flowers, Fruit, Attractive to wildlife

Sun exposure: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Acidic, Chalky/alkaline

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Experienced

Height: 180cm

Spread: 180cm

Time to plant seeds: September to November

Time to divide plants: March to May

Reader reviews


This is a great shrub for the wildlife garden as the flowers are attractive to bees and many other insects and the berries are loved by birds. It is also a good plant to quickly fill gaps around the garden especially in hedges and when planted in groups it quickly forms a very attractive "thicket" where birds will find cover and nest sites
Beware though, once it has settled in it grows very fast (one of my own speciemens growing more than 18 inches in a week)so make sure it won't bloke paths etc. It is also faily easy to propagate from cuttings as well as seed and will also self seed given the chance

Gardening Grandma

This is a beautiful and easy-to-grow shrub. Cuttings are very easy to take and the berries often spring up as new plants, too. I can't imagine why this website suggests that it is for experienced gardeners, since I have found it very easy. It responds well to hard pruning and is very tough.

Ginny May

Gardening Grandma - I agree, very easy to grow. It was in our garden when we bought the house 25 years ago, and is still going strong. In fact, it seeds itself everywhere, including halfway up an elderly Bramley apple tree, which has subsequently fallen down. I've hacked the original bush back quite vigorously on several occasions, because it was taking over the bed and blocking a path. Not my favourite - though I suppose the dark red and white bracts are quite pretty, and it is in leaf when little else is.

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