Osmanthus fragrans Oleaceae
Fragrant Tea Olive, Fragrant Olive, Sweet Osmanthus oz-MAN-thus FRAY-granz, FRAH-granz
- Broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree, 20-40 ft (6-12 m) high, upright oval to columnar habit, often grown with several main trunks. Leaves opposite or subopposite, simple, oblong-lanceolate to elliptic, 6-10 cm long, tip acuminate, base wedge-shaped (cuneate), margin entire or finely toothed, leathery tough, glossy dark green above, lighter and distinctly veined below; petiole 6-12 mm long. Flowers usually white, waxy, small, 1 cm, the 4-lobed corolla is divided more or less to the base, solitary or few in stalked clusters, very fragrant (apricot-scented). Fruits bluish, 12 mm long.
- Sun to part shade, best in acidic, well-drained soil. Drought tolerant when established but needs some watering for best performance. Can be grown as a hedge or in a pot. ..."a traditional element in southern gardens" (Floridata).
- Hardy to USDA Zone (7)8 Native to China, Japan and Himalayas. Sweet Osmanthus is the city flower of Guilin, China, and Guilin actually means Forest of Sweet Osmanthus trees.
- The very fragrant flowers are used as an additive for tea and other beverages in the far east. In addition, in China the flowers are also used to produce osmanthus-scented jam, sweet cakes, dumplings and soups. An extract (alcohol absolute) of gold-orange flowers (O. fragrans var. thunbergii) is very expensive (~U.S. $4000 per kilogram) and accordingly is used in only the most expensive perfumes and flavors (Leffingwell & Associates).
- A number of cultivars, formas, varieties, etc. (Dirr, 1998), some are difficult to find in commerce:
- Apricot Gold - flowers apricot-cold colored, fragrant.
- f. aurantiacus (syn. O. aurantiacus) - pale orange flowers bloom in fall, leaves usually entire.
- Butter Yellow - fragrant yellow flowers.
- Conger Yellow - fragrant yellow flowers.
- Fudingzhu (syn. Nanjin's Beauty) - abundant, very fragrant, cream-white flowers, reportedly blooms for nine months.
- Hunter's Creek - large, 20 ft (6 m) shrub with white flowers.
- var. latifolia - fragrant cream-yellow flowers, summer blooming for several months.
- Live Oak Gold - gold-yellow flowers.
- Orange Supreme - fragrant bright orange flowers.
- var. semperflorens - reportedly the hardiest (Zone 7), flowers over a long period.
- var. thunbergii - fragrant yellow flowers.
- T-Tower - small tree with white flowers.
- fragrans: fragrant, a reference to the flowers.
- Portland, Oregon: Portland Classical Chinese Garden