Osmanthus fragrans - Sweet olive, Tea olive
About thirty species of Osmanthus
are native to Asia and North
America. They are evergreen shrubs and small trees. The sweet
olive is native to China
Flowers are highly fragrant and may be produced from autumn to early spring. In
the United States,
the most commonly grown forms have white flowers but yellow, orange, and red
flowered forms exist. In China,
the flowers are sometimes as a flavoring in cooking and for tea.
The photo below was taken in Jiangsu Province, China
by Dr. David Creech of the SFA Mast Arboretum, Stephen F. Austin State
University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
He describes the tree as twenty feet tall with a crown diameter of twenty-five
feet. The largest specimen in China
is reported to be forty feet tall and over two thousand years old. Dr. Creech
says these large specimens are revered in China.
See plants at the pedestrian circle at building 51.
Generally considered a large shrub to about fifteen feet tall in American gardens. See information below for maximum size.
Light: full sun to part shade
Water: well-drained soil, drought tolerant
Soil: well-drained, acidic soil
This is an easy plant to grow in north Florida. The best site is sunny and well-drained.