Gardenia jasminoides

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Gardenia jasminoides
Gardenia jasminoides flower Argentina.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Gardenia
G. jasminoides
Binomial name
Gardenia jasminoides
    • Jasminum capense Mill.
    • Gardenia angustifolia G.Lodd.
    • Gardenia augusta Merr.
    • Gardenia augusta f. shanpinensis F.C.Ho
    • Gardenia florida L.
    • Gardenia grandiflora Lour.
    • Gardenia grandiflora Siebold ex Zucc.
    • Gardenia jasminoides f. kueishanensis F.C.Ho
    • Gardenia jasminoides f. longicarpa Z.M.Xie & M.Okada
    • Gardenia longisepala (Masam.) Masam.
    • Gardenia pictorum Hassk.
    • Gardenia radicans Thunb.
    • Genipa florida (L.) Baill.
    • Genipa grandiflora (Lour.) Baill.
    • Genipa radicans (Thunb.) Baill.
    • Mussaenda chinensis Lour.
    • Warneria augusta L.

Gardenia jasminoides, commonly known as gardenia,[2] is an evergreen flowering plant of the coffee family Rubiaceae. It originated in Asia and is most commonly found growing wild in Vietnam, Southern China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar, India and Bangladesh. Wild plants range from 30 cm to 3 m high and have a rounded habit with very dense branches with opposite leaves, lanceolate-oblong, leathery or gathered in groups on the same node and by a dark green, shiny and slightly waxy surface and prominent veins.

With its shiny green leaves and heavily fragrant white summer flowers, it is widely used in gardens in warm temperate and subtropical climates, and as a houseplant in temperate regions. It has been in cultivation in China for at least a thousand years, and was introduced to English gardens in the mid-18th century. Many varieties have been bred for horticulture, with low-growing, and large, and long-flowering forms.

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

German-Dutch botanist Georg Rumphius had seen Gardenia jasminoides on the island of Amboina (Ambon), noting in his Herbarium Amboinense around 1700 that it was a "delightful ornament" called catsjopiri or catsjopiring in Malay. He reported that it had been imported there from Batavia (Jakarta).[3][4] Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus recognized the value of Rumphius' work and assigned his student Olaf Stickman to study it. Stickman's dissertation was printed in 1754;[5] he described the species as Varneria augusta in 1759.[6]

English botanist Ellis described Gardenia jasminoides in 1761,[7] having realised on dissecting the flower that it was not closely related to jasmine and warranted a new genus. He had initially proposed Warneria after the original plant's owner in England. However, Warner declined to have it named for him and so Ellis chose Gardenia to honour Garden.[8] It gained its association with the name jasmine as the botanist and artist Georg Dionysius Ehret had depicted it and queried whether it was a jasmine as the flowers resembled the latter plant. The name stuck and lived on as common name and scientific epithet.[7]

Linnaeus himself gave it the name Gardenia florida in 1762 in the second edition of his Species Plantarum in 1762.[9] American botanist Elmer D. Merrill followed Stickman with Gardenia augusta in 1917,[5] however Rumphius' original work was later deemed insufficient to describe the species so these names are nomina nuda.[10]

London nurseryman Conrad Loddiges described Gardenia angustifolia in 1821, holding it to be distinct on the basis of its narrow leaves.[11]

Gardenia jasminoides varies markedly in morphology, particularly in the sizes of leaves, calyx lobes and corollas in different populations. This has led to Chinese authorities describing several varieties that are not accepted elsewhere. W.C. Chen gave the name G. jasminoides var. fortuneana to a large double-flowered sterile form that does not produce seed and is widely cultivated.[12]

The common names cape jasmine and cape jessamine derive from the earlier belief that the flower originated in Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.[7] Other common names include danh-danh and jasmin.[2]



Gardenia jasminoides is a shrub that ranges from 30 cm to 3 metres (1-10 ft) high in the wild, with cylindrical to flat branches that are furry at first becoming smooth. The leaves are arranged oppositely—or rarely in groups of three—along the branches. They are either subsessile or on short 0.5-1 cm long petioles. The leaves themselves are 3-25 cm long by 1.5-8 cm wide and can be oblong-lanceolate, obovate-oblong, obovate, oblanceolate, or elliptic in shape. Their upper surface is smooth and shiny, or slightly furry along the primary veins, while the undersurface is slightly furry to smooth. Each leaf has 8 to 15 pairs of secondary veins. The flowers are solitary and terminal (arising from the ends of stems).[12]

The white flowers have a matte texture, in contrast to the glossy leaves. They gradually take on a creamy yellow color and a waxy surface. They can be quite large, up to 10 cm (4 in) in diameter, loosely funnel-shaped, and double in form. Blooming in summer and autumn, they are among the most strongly fragrant of all flowers. They are followed by small, oval fruit.[13]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Within China the species is found in Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces.[12]

Its native habitat is forest and undergrowth along streams, and on sloping and hilly terrain to an alittude of 1500 m.[12]


Cultivars of Gardenia jasminoides
'Magnifica', a large double-flowered form
Single-petaled form, Japan

Evidence of G. jasminoides in cultivation in China dates to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), where both wild and double-flowered forms have been depicted in paintings, such as those of the Song Emperor Huizong,[14] and the Tenth century artist Xu Xi.[15] The Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) saw it on lacquerware, and the Ming Dynasty on porcelain (1368–1644).[16] Called zhi-zi in traditional Chinese medicine, it was a folk remedy for jaundice, oedema and fevers.[12] English statesman Sir John Barrow saw gardenias in nurseries in Guangzhou, China in 1794.[16]

G. jasminoides came to Europe via the Cape Colony in southern Africa, which had been founded in 1652 as a way-station between the Netherlands and Asia. There, Daniel Des Marets, Superintendent of the Dutch estates of William III, collected material that ended up in the herbarium of English naturalist Hans Sloane in the 1680s. [3] Daniel Solander reported that the living species was brought to the United Kingdom from the Cape Colony in 1744 on the British East India Ship Godolphin by captain William Hutchenson, who gave it to botanist Richard Warner of Woodford Row, Essex.[3][17] Warner, however, was unable to propagate it until the botanist John Ellis recommended James Gordon, a gardener at Mile End.[8] Gordon was successful in August 1757, and plants sold well thereafter;[7] each cutting-grown plant fetching five guineas.[8]

Gardenias were first grown in the United States in 1762, in the Charleston garden of Alexander Garden, who had moved there 10 years previously.[18]

In cultivation in the UK, G. jasminoides has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[19][20] Highly regarded for its fragrant summer flowers and attractive foliage, it is used as a specimen feature or as a hedging or screening plant.[13]

Widely used as a garden plant in warm, temperate and subtropical gardens,[21] it is hardy in US zones 8 to 10,[13] or H1C in the UK (outdoor temperatures above 5 °C (41 °F)).[19] It requires good drainage and a sunny location, and prefers an acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5.[21] in humid environments. Getting those conditions is rather hard in temperate latitudes, the reason for which gardenias are usually cultivated as houseplants or in greenhouses. In warm places, though, it can be grown outdoors. Either way, it prefers bright indirect sunlight or partial shade.

Apart from the difficulties in creating suitable conditions for the plant to live, gardenias need to be planted in an acidic soil (it is a calcifuge). If the soil is not acid enough, many of its nutrients (especially iron compounds) will not be available for the plant, since they will not dilute in water, so will not be absorbed by the roots. If this happens, gardenias start to develop chlorosis, whose main symptom is a yellowing of the leaves. (See Soil pH).

For this reason, it is advisable not to water gardenias with very hard water. When having to water with hard water, it is possible to add some vinegar or lemon juice to it before doing so, this will lower the pH of the water, or use an effective pH modifier, like phosphoric or nitric acid.

Iron chelate can be added to the soil to lower the pH, but care must be taken since an overdose can kill the plant, as with any other inorganic soil amendment.


Many cultivars have been developed, of which the double-flowered forms are most popular. G. 'Radicans' is a low-growing groundcover which reaches 15–45 cm (6–18 in) and spreads up to a metre wide, while G. 'Fortuniana' and G. 'Mystery' are double-flowered cultivars.[13] The former was sent by Scottish botanist Robert Fortune in 1844 to the Royal Horticultural Society in London.[16] The latter has a large upright habit and has been a popular variety good for hedging. It reaches 1.8 to 2.5 m (6–8 ft) high and wide.[21]

1880s botanical drawing

G. 'Aimee' is an early-flowering (spring) form.[22] Cultivars such as G. 'Shooting Star' and G. 'Chuck Hayes' are more cold-hardy, roughly to zone 7.[23][24] A cultivar called 'Summer Snow' is distinguished by its large flowers and grows in USDA Zones 6-10.[25] 'Crown Jewel' is a dwarf spreading variety That has survived several weeks below zero in Zone 6.

Unlike other varieties, G. 'Golden Magic' bears flowers which change to a golden yellow relatively early after opening white. It grows to 1.5 m (5 ft) high and 1 m (3.5 ft) wide.[26]


Polynesian people in the Pacific islands use the fragrant blooms in their flower necklaces, which are called Ei in the Cook Islands, Hei in French Polynesia and Lei in Hawaii.[citation needed] Gardenia flowers can be eaten raw, pickled, or preserved in honey.

In China, the petals are used in tea for their aroma, while a yellow-red dye used in textiles and sweets has been extracted from the pulp of the fruit.[3]

Gardenia jasminoides fructus (fruit) is used within traditional Chinese medicine to "drain fire" and treat certain febrile conditions, i.e. have an anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effect.[27]

Shishihakuhito is a Chinese herbal medicine mainly composed of gardenia fruit, used to treat atopic dermatitis as it inhibits IgE-mediated histamine release.[28] In 2020, the case of a woman who had developed blue-gray discoloration of the skin as a result of chronic intake of gardenia fruit extract was published.[29]


The iridoids genipin and geniposidic acid can be found in G. jasminoides fruit.[30]

Crocetin (a chemical compound usually obtained from Crocus sativus) can also be obtained from the fruit of G. jasminoides.[31] The fruit has crocin which is used as a yellow dye,[16] which is used for clothes and food.


  1. ^ "Gardenia jasminoides J.Ellis". Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Gardenia jasminoides". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Jarvis, Charles E.; Duval, Ashley; Crane, Peter R. (2014). "Gardenia jasminoides: A Traditional Chinese Dye Plant Becomes a Garden Ornamental in Europe". Curtis's Botanical Magazine. 31: 80–98. doi:10.1111/curt.12052.
  4. ^ Rumpf, Georg Eberhard (1750). Herbarium amboinense. Amsterdam: Apud Fransicum Changuion, Joannem Catuffe, Hermannum Uytwerf. pp. 26–27.
  5. ^ a b Merrill, Elmer Drew; Robinson, Charles Budd (1917). An interpretation of Rumphius's Herbarium amboinense. Manila: Bureau of Printing. pp. 31–32, 485.
  6. ^ Stickman, Olaf (1759). "Herbarium Amboinense". Amoenitates Academicae. 4: 112-143 [138].
  7. ^ a b c d Foster, Steven; Yue, Chongxi (1992). Herbal emissaries: bringing Chinese herbs to the West : a Guide to Gardening, Herbal Wisdom, and Well-Being. Healing Arts Press. pp. 185. ISBN 0-89281-349-0.
  8. ^ a b c "LXXXII. An account of the plants Halesia and Gardenia: In a letter from John Ellis, Esq; F. R. S. To Philip Carteret Webb, Esq; F. R. S." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 51: 929–935. 1759. doi:10.1098/rstl.1759.0084. S2CID 186210416.
  9. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1762). Species plantarum :exhibentes plantas rite cognitas, ad genera relatas, cum differentiis specificis, nominibus trivialibus, synonymis selectis, locis natalibus, secundum systema sexuale digestas (in Latin) (2nd ed.). Stockholm: Laurentii Salvii. p. 305.
  10. ^ Hubbard, F. Tracy; Rehder, Alfred (1932). "Nomenclatorial Notes on Plants growing in the Botanical Garden of the Atkins Institution of the Arnold Arboretum at Soledad, Cienfuegos, Cuba". Botanical Museum leaflets, Harvard University (1): 1–11.
  11. ^ Loddiges, Joachim Conrad (1821). The botanical cabinet. 6. London: John & Arthur Arch. pp. 512–513.
  12. ^ a b c d e Chen, Tao; Luo, Xianrui; Zhu, Hua; Taylor, Charlotte M.; Ehrendorfer, Friedrich; Lantz, Henrik; Funston, Michele; Puff, Christian. "Gardenia jasminoides". Flora of China. 19. Retrieved 6 January 2021 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  13. ^ a b c d Gilman, Edward F. (October 1999). "Fact Sheet FPS-222: Gardenia jasminoides" (PDF). University of Florida: Institute of food and agricultural sciences. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  14. ^ Keswick, Maggie (2003). The Chinese Garden (2nd ed.). London: Frances Lincoln. p. 63. ISBN 0-7112-2031-X.
  15. ^ Keswick, p. 204
  16. ^ a b c d Valder, Peter (1999). Garden Plants of China. Glebe, NSW: Florilegium. p. 289. ISBN 1-876314-02-8.
  17. ^ "CVII. An account of the Gardenia: In a letter to Philip Carteret Webb, Esq; F. R. S. From Daniel C. Solander, M. D". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 52: 654–661. 1761. doi:10.1098/rstl.1761.0109. S2CID 186210214.
  18. ^ Bender, Steve (2011). "A Brief History of the Gardenia". Southern Living. Birmingham, AL: Time Inc. Lifestyle Group. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  19. ^ a b "Gardenia jasminoides AGM". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  20. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 39. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  21. ^ a b c Bussell, Gene A. (June 2005). "Gardenias: A Fragrance That Captivates". Southern Living. Birmingham, AL: Time Inc. Lifestyle Group. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  22. ^ Hériteau, Jacqueline (2005). Complete trees, shrubs & hedges. pp. 179. ISBN 1-58011-259-5.
  23. ^ "Gardenia jasminoides 'Shooting Star'". Missouri Botanical Garden's Kemper Center for Home Gardening.
  24. ^ United States Plant Patent PP19896
  25. ^ U.S. Patent PP22797
  26. ^ Plantmark (2006). "Gardenias". self. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  27. ^ Bensky, Dan; et al. (2004). Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica (3rd ed.). Seattle: Eastland Press, Inc. p. 95.
  28. ^ Mie WAKABAYASHI, Eiko SAKURAI, Kazuhiko YANAI, Kazuhiro UMEMURA, Masaaki YOSHIDA, Yasushi OHIZUMI, Tohru YAMAKUNI (2009). "Shishihakuhito, a traditional Chinese medicine for atopic dermatitis, inhibits IgE-mediated histamine release from rat RBL-2H3 basophilic leukocyte cells". Journal of Traditional Medicines. 26: 44–49. doi:10.11339/jtm.26.44.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Mizawa, Megumi; Andoh, Tsugunobu; Shimizu, Tadamichi (2020-03-01). "Gardenia Fruit–Related Blue-Gray Skin Pigmentation". JAMA Dermatology. 156 (3): 351–353. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.4682. ISSN 2168-6068. PMID 32022833.
  30. ^ Koo, HJ; Lim, KH; Jung, HJ; Park, EH (2006). "Anti-inflammatory evaluation of gardenia extract, geniposide and genipin". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 103 (3): 496–500. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.08.011. PMID 16169698.
  31. ^ Yamauchi, M; Tsuruma, K; Imai, S; Nakanishi, T; Umigai, N; Shimazawa, M; Hara, H (2011). "Crocetin prevents retinal degeneration induced by oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stresses via inhibition of caspase activity". European Journal of Pharmacology. 650 (1): 110–9. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.09.081. PMID 20951131.

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