One species of deciduous tree, decidous, dioecious. Leaves alternate, glandular-toothed, with 3–5 veins from the base; petiole long, glandular. Flowers in large hanging scented terminal or axillary panicles, sometimes raceme-like. Sepals (3–)5(–6), free or joined only at the base. Petals absent. Male flowers with many stamens as long as the sepals. Female flowers with many staminodes and (3–)5(–6) styles. Fruit a berry containing many seeds. (Flora of China 2022).
Idesia was named in 1866 by the Russian botanist Karl Maximovich and commemorates Eberhard Isbrand Ides, a Dutchman who had travelled to China in 1692–4 as a trade envoy on Russia’s behalf (Wikipedia 2022). (An ‘authentic’ pronunciation of the generic name would be ‘ee-dess-ia’, rather than the customary ‘I-deez-ia’ or the occasional ‘I-dzia’.) The plant’s Japanese name, ‘iigiri’ (Nature in Japan 2022), has gained some vernacular use in the west, but generally gets corrupted to ‘igiri’, ‘ligiri’ or ‘irgiri’.
Although it has acquired two very seldom encountered synonyms, the genus is a distinctive one, especially when its single known representative is carrying its long colourful clusters of berries; the closest hardy allies, Carrierea and Poliothyrsis, have dry seeds. These plants were once placed in the family Flacourtiaceae, but phylogenetic studies have shown this to have been an artificial aggregate; in evolutionary terms,Idesia belongs within the Willow Family, Salicaceae, and turns out to be quite closely allied to the willows and poplars themselves (Zhang, Zeng & Liu 2021).