The fruits, red when mature, ripen from the blossoms borne the previous year; the clusters of urn-shaped, pinkish-white flowers and ripe red fruits together on this late-blooming evergreen tree make it a particularly striking ornamental plant in late fall and early winter. The shredding, cinnamon-colored bark has been praised by Michael Dirr as “handsome beyond description.”
The flowers are typical of the Ericaceae, or heath, family, and resemble those of the related species Pieris japonica, or andromeda, commonly grown as an ornamental evergreen shrub throughout the United States.
The fruit is a drupe, with a thin, red, warty rind that resembles that of the lychee, although the two species are not botanically related. The comparison of the fruit with that of the strawberry goes back to the Roman natural historian Pliny.