Osmanthus

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Osmanthus
Osmanthus heterophyllus in flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Tribe: Oleeae
Genus: Osmanthus
Lour.
Species

About 30 species; see text.

Osmanthus /ɒzˈmænθəs/[1] is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae, mostly native to the warm temperate zone, from the Caucasus east to Japan, with one species (O. americanus) occurring in the southeastern United States, from Texas to Virginia. It is sometimes included in Nestegis.

Osmanthus range in size from shrubs to small trees, 2–12 m (7–39 ft) 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.

Species[edit]

Garden hybrids
  • Osmanthus × burkwoodii (O. delavayi × O. decorus)
  • Osmanthus × fortunei (O. fragrans × O. heterophyllus)

Cultivation[edit]

Osmanthus decorus

Osmanthus are popular shrubs in parks and gardens throughout the warm temperate zone. Several hybrids and cultivars have been developed. Osmanthus flower on old wood and produce more flowers if unpruned. 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.

In Japan, sweet osmanthus (gin-mokusei) is a favorite garden shrub. Its small white flowers appear in short-stalked clusters in late autumn. It has an intense sweet fragrance. A variant with deep golden flowers (kin-mokusei) is also popular.

Uses[edit]

The flowers of O. fragrans are used throughout East Asia for their scent and flavor, which is likened to apricot and peach.

In China, osmanthus tea (桂花茶, guìhuāchá) combines sweet osmanthus flowers with black or green tea leaves. Osmanthus wine flavors huangjiu or other rice wines with full osmanthus blossoms and is traditionally consumed during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Traditional Chinese medicine claims that osmanthus tea improves complexion and helps rid the body of excess nitric oxide, a compound linked to the formation of cancer, diabetes, and renal disease.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Jonathan Thompson. "What are the health benefits of drinking Osmanthus tea?". 

External links[edit]