Japanese Cleyera

Ternstroemia gymnanthera

Family: Theaceae (tee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ternstroemia (tern-STROE-mee-uh) (Info)
Species: gymnanthera (jim-NANTH-er-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Ternstroemia japonica
Synonym:Taonabo japonica
Synonym:Cleyera gymnanthera



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer


Grown for foliage



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama

Atmore, Alabama

Northport, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Martinez, California

Keystone Heights, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Umatilla, Florida

Lula, Georgia

Villa Rica, Georgia

Ledbetter, Kentucky

New Orleans, Louisiana

Paulina, Louisiana

Vacherie, Louisiana

Centreville, Maryland

Greenville, Mississippi

Raymond, Mississippi

Cary, North Carolina

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

Oxford, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Waxhaw, North Carolina

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Anderson, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Hamer, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Germantown, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Houston, Texas

Palestine, Texas

Rowlett, Texas

Terrell, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 28, 2016, clairesn from Germantown, TN wrote:

I can confirm N2tropicAL's comment about height. In zone 7b, I've seen local specimens 20+ feet tall by 15 feet wide. They want to be trees, not bushes. Unfortunately they were planted by our house builder as understory bushes around East Palatka holly trees at the corners of our house 15 years ago. We now have to excavate the sites because both the trees and the cleyeras have overgrown their sites. The cleyeras have legged themselves up so they no longer grow leaves in the bottom 2-1/2 feet of the plants. Mine also have really shallow roots that spread (sometimes along the surface) to greedily absorb nutrients from surrounding bedding plants. Given their behavior in our yard, I'd recommend planting them as yard specimens away from house foundations. They ARE beautiful when allowed to grow... read more


On Jul 24, 2013, kim1961 from Villa Rica, GA wrote:

I love this shrub. I planted 25 of these across the front of my yard as a privacy hedge. They grew pretty fast. About 15 years later they are beautiful and at least 10ft tall, thick and healthy. I didn't lose any of them. They are near the ditch/road in full sun. They also shade out undergrowth. Many years in drought conditions and acidic soil. Out-performs the photinia as they are much more reliable, disease and bug resistant. I am thinking about planting them down both sides of the yard for more privacy. Birds love them and nest in them too.


On Oct 25, 2010, N2tropicAL from Anniston, AL wrote:

durable and pretty much pest free...i like this evergreen. most literature states the height as 6-8 ft, but in my garden it is pushing 20 ft. i have seen large tree-like specimens in lower alabama that are in the 40 ft plus range. it will occasionally ressed in my garden, but not to the point of being a problem.


On May 7, 2007, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is for sale at all of the big box stores in my area. I have never cared for it because I think it is rather plain looking. It does make an effective screen however.


On Apr 21, 2006, GrandmaLillie from Hamer, SC wrote:

Japanese Cleyera (Ternstroemia gymnanthera) can be purchased also through the Wal-Mart stores (Myrtle Beach, Conway, Marion & Dillon, SC)


On Nov 9, 2003, dogbane from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Frequently used for specimen or hedges in the New Orleans area. Fewer problems than photinia or camellia. Does require acidic soils for best performance and dislikes hot, dry, sunny locations. Slow growing - mine get direct light only in the late afternoon and maybe twice a year require light shaping. Wonderful dark green leaves with bronze colored new growth. Overwatering can cause root rot and black spot.


On Aug 7, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I don't know the plant itself, but I've been searching for more information about it. I've seen interesting pics of the flowers, larger than other species of Ternstroemia (the largest genus of the Tea Plant family), that are a very good secondary atractiveness. I've read that the leaves are used against malaria


On Aug 30, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A good substitute for Red-Tip Photinia, (which is prone to powdery mildew), this evergreen shrub's new growth is tinged red, turning dark glossy green as it matures. Can get tall, but is easily kept in check with pruning.