Osmanthus fragrans (sweet osmanthus; Chinese: 桂花 guìhuā; Japanese: 金木犀 kinmokusei; also known as sweet olive, tea olive and fragrant olive) is a species of Osmanthus native to Asia, from the Himalaya east through southern China (Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan) and to Taiwan and to southern Japan. Sweet osmanthus is also the 'city flower' of Hangzhou China, and Guilin, China.
It is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 3–12 m tall. The leaves are 7–15 cm long and 2.6–5 cm broad, with an entire or finely toothed margin. The flowers are white, pale yellow, yellow, or orange-yellow, small (1 cm long), with a four-lobed corolla 5 mm diameter, and have a strong fragrance; they are produced in small clusters in the late summer and autumn. The fruit is a purple-black drupe 10–15 mm long containing a single hard-shelled seed; it is mature in the spring about six months after flowering.
Cultivation and uses
It is cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens in Asia, Europe, North America, and elsewhere in the world, for its deliciously fragrant flowers which carry the scent of ripe peaches or apricots. A number of cultivars have been selected for garden use, with varying flower colours.
In Chinese, the plant is called xī (樨) or guìhuā (桂花), and its flowers, called guì huā (桂花, literally "cinnamon flower" or "cassia flower") are used, infused with green or black tea leaves, to create a scented tea called guì huā chá (桂花茶).
In Chinese cuisine, the flowers are also used to produce osmanthus-scented jam (called guì huā jiàng, 桂花醬 or 桂花酱), sweet cakes (called guì huā gāo, 桂花糕), dumplings, soups, and even liquor (called guì huā jiǔ, 桂花酒; or 桂花陈酒, guì huā chén jiǔ). Osmanthus jam is used as an ingredient in a type of gruel called chátāng (茶汤), which is made from sorghum or millet flour and sugar mixed with boiling water. This dish is typical of the northern city of Tianjin, although it may also be found in Beijing.
In some regions of North India, especially in the state of Uttarakhand, the flowers of sweet osmanthus (locally known as सिलंग silang) are used to protect clothes from insects. It is also used as a fragrant garden flower.
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- "The Plant List entry for Osmanthus fragrans var. aurantiacus".
- "The Plant List entry for Osmanthus fragrans var. fragrans".
- Flora of China: Osmanthus fragrans
- Flora of Pakistan: Osmanthus fragrans
- Mitomori: Osmanthus fragrans (in Japanese; google translation)
- Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
- A manual of Indian timbers: an account of the growth, distribution, and uses of the trees and shrubs of India and Ceylon, with descriptions of their wood-structure, James Sykes Gamble, S. Low, Marston & Co, 1922, ... Osmanthus, Lour ... A very sweet scented tree, the flowers having the scent of apricots. These flowers are used in China to flavour tea and in Kumaon to protect clothes from insects ...
- Economic Products of India, Sir George Watt, Printed by the Superintendent of Government Printing, Government of India,1883, ... Osmanthus fragrans, Lour., Oleaceae, Vernacular - Shilling, silang, Kumaun; Tungrung, Lepcha. A small tree of the Himalaya, from Kumaun to Bhutan, sometimes gregarious, but more often planted for the sake of its sweet-scented flowers ...
- Zhou S.,"Flower herbal tea used for treatment of menopathies"., Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2008 28:3 (202-204)
- Lee H.-H., Lin C.-T., Yang L.-L. "Neuroprotection and free radical scavenging effects of Osmanthus fragrans.", Journal of Biomedical Science 2007 14:6 (819-827)
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