Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Summer highlight: Pheasant berry

Posted: August 1, 2021 at 15:29 pm Author: Jo Murray Marketing and Communications Officer

This month we bring the Pheasant berry (Leycesteria formosa) into the light. It’s an easily grown shrub providing cover for game birds, such as pheasants in agricultural parts of China and Tibet.

Pheasant berry


Brought over from South West China during the Victorian era this shrub bears very sweet tasting berries, like toffee, when ripe but are extremely bitter to taste before then.


The attractive fruit are reddish-purple berries, quite large, which are said to be a tempting snack for pheasants, hence the common name.

At Westonbirt

This low maintenance shrub from the Himalayas is best known for its claret red bracts that create a great contrast to its white flowers which form from June to September.

Pheasant berry

Fun fact: This plant is also known under names such as Himalayan honeysuckle, flowering nutmeg, or granny's curls.

This brings the summer highlight trees to an end. Next month, we’ll be heading into autumn taking a look at the Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), another species from the east.

Read another tree of the month blog ...