A tall evergreen tree in the wild, with stout, glabrous branchlets. Leaves leathery, glossy and deep green above, paler beneath, glabrous, obovate or broadly oblanceolate to elliptic, obtuse at the apex, cuneate at the base, 3 to 6 in. long, 1[5/8] to 3 in. wide, pinnately veined; petiole stout, about 1 in. long. Panicles glabrous. Flowers bisexual, about [1/2] in. wide. Perianth segments persistent, reflexed in the fruits, which are globose, about [3/8] in. wide, blackish purple.
Native of central and southern Japan, southern Korea, Formosa and China; date of first introduction uncertain, but now in cultivation at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, from seeds received from South Korea.
P. japonica (Sieb. & Zucc.) Kostermans Machilus japonicus Sieb. & Zucc.; M. thunbergii var. japonicus (Sieb. & Zucc.) Yatabe – Allied to the preceding and also in cultivation at Wakehurst Place from Korean seed. It differs in its lanceolate to oblong-obovate or oblanceolate leaves, which are slightly lustrous above, whitish beneath, 3 to 8 in. long, 1 to 1[7/8] in. wide, tapered at the apex. Native of central and southern Japan and of southern Korea.