Q: I have a short, dark green plant popping up in several places in my yard. It has red berries hanging on it. Can you tell me what it is?
A: Thanks for bringing samples into the office of this plant as it makes it so much easier to identify. The plant is called coral ardisia, Ardisia crenata. It is a non-native, invasive plant which is generally found in clumps and goes by the common name of Christmas berry. It used to be sold in nurseries but now Coral ardisia is classified as an invasive and I know of no legitimate nurseries who would sell it.
The “invasive” classification is the result of Coral ardisia finding its way into various wildlife areas replacing native food habitats. Birds and raccoons disperse the berries into wooded areas. This plant easily grows back after fires and cutting it to the ground will not destroy it. The best way to manage it is to cut the stem and paint it immediately with a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate. It can be controlled by 2-4D but be sure you read the herbicide label before applying any of the chemicals mentioned. Removal of red berries would be beneficial to prevent the plant from spreading to other areas. Hand pulling smaller seedlings works well too. However, Coral ardisia has the potential to reach heights up to 6 feet; it is too difficult to pull tall specimens. We appreciate your interest in getting rid of this pesky, invasive plant from your landscape. The attached publication is from the Center of Aquatic and Invasive Plants, which contain more information and several photos of different stages to help identify the plant. http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/42