Osmanthus

Osmanthus

Osmanthus (Osmanthus) is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae, mostly native to warm temperate Asia (from the Caucasus east to Japan) but one species (O. americanus) in North America (southeastern United States, Texas to Virginia). It is sometimes included in Nestegis.

They range in size from shrubs to small trees, 2-12 m tall. The leaves are opposite, evergreen, and simple, with an entire, serrated or coarsely toothed margin. The flowers are produced in spring, summer or autumn, each flower being about 1 cm long, white, with a four-lobed tubular-based corolla ('petals'). The flowers grow in small panicles, and in several species have a strong fragrance. The fruit is a small (10-15 mm), hard-skinned dark blue to purple drupe containing a single seed.Selected species

Cultivation and uses

Osmanthus are popular shrubs in parks and gardens throughout the warm temperate zone. Several hybrids and cultivars have been developed. In China, osmanthus tea is produced by combining dried Sweet Osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans) flowers with black or green tea leaves in much the same manner the more familiar jasmine tea combines jasmine flowers with tea leaves.

Osmanthus flower on old wood, and produce more flowers if unpruned. If pruned, the plant responds by producing fast-growing young vegetative growth with no flowers, in an attempt to restore the removed branches; a pruned shrub often produces few or no flowers for one to five or more years, before the new growth matures sufficiently to start flowering.

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