Tea Olive. Fragrant Olive
Osmanthus fragrans Lour. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this member of the Osmanthus genera. It was named and described by João de Loureiro in Flora Cochinchinensis in 1790. The genus was also named by the same man.
Plants of the World Online lists 29 accepted species in the Osmanthus genus while the 2013 version of The Plant List named 36 accepted species. The Plant List is no longer maintained.
Osmanthus fragrans has scented flowers that have been used in China for about 2,500 years to flavor tea, wine, and sweets. It is also an ingredient in herbal medicine.
This plant was one of several shipped to us while living at the mansion in Mississippi by mistake. It did very well for several years but it died I think in 2012. It flowered several times but all those photos were blurry. The Osmanthus fragrans does make a nice tree for pots, though, as it stays fairly small.
Origin: China, Himalayas, Japan
Zones: USDA Zones 7b-11 (5 to 40° F)
Size: 10-15 feet tall PLUS but can be kept smaller
Light: Sun to part shade. Prefers afternoon shade in hot climates.
Soil: Prefers well-drained, consistently moist soil.
Water: Average water needs, drought tolerant once established.
Flowers: Flowers are fragrant but not attractive.
In its native habitat, the Osmanthus fragrans can grow to a height of around 30’. As a potted specimen or in the ground where hardy, trees can be pruned to be much more compact and bushy.
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