A medium-sized genus of about 70 species and a number of cultivars of evergreen shrubs, which are particularly useful for creating interest in the garden during the winter. The foliage is leathery, usually glossy, and varies from light to dark green. The leaves have a prickly, wavy margin, a bit like a larger, but flatter holly leaf. This foliage often takes on a reddish tone during the autumn and winter. The shine on the leaves help to brighten up dull winter days. The clusters or spikes of yellow flowers, which also appear during the winter, also help to lighten the more gloomy months. This is further enhanced by the fact that the flowers are sweetly scented. They have clusters of blue-black fruit, which add to the plantís attraction.
These are not the best shaped shrubs, but the good foliage helps to maintain their interest throughout the year. They like a fertile, moist but well-drained soil and are best planted in light shade, although they can be located in a sunny if the soil is kept moist. Prune by removing the terminal flower spikes after fruiting. Increase from cuttings in summer or autumn.