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Osmanthus heterophyllus in flower
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Tribe: Oleeae
Subtribe: Oleinae
Genus: Osmanthus
  • Siphonosmanthus Stapf

Osmanthus /ɒzˈmænθəs/[3] is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae. Most of the species are native to eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Indochina, the Himalayas, etc.) with a few species from the Caucasus, New Caledonia, and Sumatra.[1][4] Osmanthus has been known in China since ancient times with the earliest writings coming from the Warring States period; the book Sea and Mountain. South Mountain states: "Zhaoyao Mountain had a lot of Osmanthus".


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.[4]


The generic name Osmanthus is composed of two parts: the Greek words osma meaning smell or fragrance, and anthos meaning flower.[5][6][7]


Species accepted:[1][4]

  1. Osmanthus armatus Diels – Shaanxi, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan
  2. Osmanthus attenuatus P.S.Green – Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan
  3. Osmanthus austrocaledonicus (Vieill.) Knobl.New Caledonia
  4. Osmanthus cooperi Hemsl. – Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
  5. Osmanthus cymosus (Guillaumin) P.S.GreenNew Caledonia
  6. Osmanthus decorus (Boiss. & Balansa) Kasapligil – Caucasian osmanthus – Turkey, Caucasus
  7. Osmanthus delavayi Franch.Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan
  8. Osmanthus didymopetalus P.S.GreenGuangdong, Hainan
  9. Osmanthus enervius Masam. & T.Mori – Taiwan, Nansei Islands
  10. Osmanthus fordii Hemsl.Guangdong, Guangxi
  11. Osmanthus fragrans Lour. – Sweet osmanthus, sweet olive, fragrant tea olive – Himalayas (northern and eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Assam), Indochina (Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam), Japan, China (Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan, Sichuan), Taiwan
  12. Osmanthus gracilinervis L.C.Chia ex R.L.LuGuangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
  13. Osmanthus hainanensis P.S.GreenHainan
  14. Osmanthus henryi P.S.GreenGuizhou, Hunan, Yunnan
  15. Osmanthus heterophyllus (G.Don) P.S.Green – Holly osmanthus, holly olive, false holly, mock holly, hiiragi – Japan, Taiwan, Nansei Islands
  16. Osmanthus insularis Koidz. – Korea, Japan, Nansei Islands, Ogasawara Islands,
  17. Osmanthus iriomotensis T.YamazNansei Islands
  18. Osmanthus kaoi (T.S.Liu & J.C.Liao) S.Y.Lu – Taiwan
  19. Osmanthus lanceolatus Hayata – Taiwan
  20. Osmanthus monticola (Schltr.) Knobl.New Caledonia
  21. Osmanthus pubipedicellatus L.C.Chia ex H.T.ChangGuangdong
  22. Osmanthus reticulatus P.S.GreenGuangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, Sichuan
  23. Osmanthus rigidus NakaiKyushu
  24. Osmanthus serrulatus Rehder in C.S.Sargent – Sichuan
  25. Osmanthus suavis King ex C.B.Clarke in J.D.HookerAssam, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, Myanmar, Yunnan, Tibet
  26. Osmanthus urceolatus P.S.Green - Sichuan, Hubei
  27. Osmanthus venosus Pamp.Hubei
  28. Osmanthus yunnanensis (Franch.) P.S.GreenYunnan, Tibet

Species transferred to Cartrema:[2][8]

  1. Osmanthus americanus (L.) A.Gray – Devilwood – southeastern US from Texas to Virginia; eastern and southern Mexico
  2. Osmanthus floridanus Chapman - Florida
  3. Osmanthus marginatus (Champ. ex Benth.) Hemsl.Nansei Islands, Taiwan, Vietnam, Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang
  4. Osmanthus matsumuranus Hayata – Assam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Anhui, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang
  5. Osmanthus minor P.S.GreenFujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
  6. Osmanthus scortechinii King & Gamble – Thailand, Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia
  7. Osmanthus sumatranus P.S.Green – Sumatra
Garden hybrids
  • Osmanthus × burkwoodii (Burkwood & Skipwith) P.S.Green (O. delavayi × O. decorus)
  • Osmanthus × fortunei Carrière (O. fragrans × O. heterophyllus)


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, Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. aurantiacus Makino (fragrant orange-colored olive) (kin-mokusei) is a favorite garden shrub. Its small deep golden flowers appear in short-stalked clusters in late autumn. It has an intense sweet fragrance. A variant with white flowers (gin-mokusei) is also popular.


The flowers of O. fragrans are used throughout East Asia for their scent and flavour, 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. In Liuzhou, it is used to flavor a locally brewed beer. Sweet osmanthus and osmanthus tea are particularly associated with the city of Guilin (桂林, literally "Forest of Sweet Osmanthus").

Osmanthus wine is prepared by infusing whole Osmanthus fragrans flowers in huangjiu or other types of rice wine and is traditionally consumed during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

PepsiCo makes osmanthus flavored Pepsi for the Chinese domestic market.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ a b Nesom, G.L. 2012. Synopsis of American Cartrema (Oleaceae). Phytoneuron 2012-96: 1–11.
  3. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  4. ^ a b c Flora of China, v 15 p 286, 木犀属 mu xi shu, Osmanthus Loureiro, Fl. Cochinch. 1: 28. 1790.
  5. ^ Evans, Linsay (2021-07-29). "Osmanthus Flower Meaning and Symbolism". Petal Republic. Retrieved 2023-08-29.
  6. ^ Dehgan, Bijan (2023-04-05). Garden Plants Taxonomy: Volume 2: Angiosperms (Eudicots). Springer Nature. ISBN 978-3-031-11565-3.
  7. ^ Gledhill, D. (2008-03-06). The Names of Plants. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3.
  8. ^ José Ignacio De Juana Clavero, Cambios nomenclaturales en la sección Leiolea (Spach) P. S. Green, del género Osmanthus Lour. (Oleaceae), Bouteloua 22: 28-39 (XI-2015)
  9. ^ "Multinational firms are finding it hard to let go of China". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2023-01-29.

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