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Osmanthus heterophyllus1.jpg
Osmanthus heterophyllus in flower
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Tribe: Oleeae
Subtribe: Oleinae
Genus: Osmanthus
  • Cartrema Raf.
  • Pausia Raf.
  • Siphonosmanthus Stapf
  • Amarolea Small

Osmanthus /ɒzˈmænθəs/[2] 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, Sumatra, and North America (Mexico, Central America, southeastern United States).[1][3]

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.[3]


Species accepted:[1][3]

  1. Osmanthus americanus (L.) A.Gray – Devilwood – southeastern US from Texas to Virginia; eastern and southern Mexico
  2. Osmanthus armatus Diels – Shaanxi, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan
  3. Osmanthus attenuatus P.S.Green – Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan
  4. Osmanthus austrocaledonicus (Vieill.) Knobl.New Caledonia
  5. Osmanthus cooperi Hemsl. – Anhui, Fujian, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
  6. Osmanthus cymosus (Guillaumin) P.S.GreenNew Caledonia
  7. Osmanthus decorus (Boiss. & Balansa) Kasapligil – Caucasian osmanthus – Turkey, Caucasus
  8. Osmanthus delavayi Franch.Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan
  9. Osmanthus didymopetalus P.S.GreenGuangdong, Hainan
  10. Osmanthus enervius Masam. & T.Mori – Taiwan, Nansei-shoto
  11. Osmanthus fordii Hemsl.Guangdong, Guangxi
  12. 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, Taiwan, Sichuan)
  13. Osmanthus gracilinervis L.C.Chia ex R.L.LuGuangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
  14. Osmanthus hainanensis P.S.GreenHainan
  15. Osmanthus henryi P.S.GreenGuizhou, Hunan, Yunnan
  16. Osmanthus heterophyllus (G.Don) P.S.Green – Holly osmanthus, holly olive, false holly, hiiragi – Japan, Taiwan, Nansei-shoto
  17. Osmanthus insularis Koidz. – Korea, Japan, Nansei-shoto, Ogasawara-shoto,
  18. Osmanthus iriomotensis T.YamazNansei-shoto
  19. Osmanthus kaoi (T.S.Liu & J.C.Liao) S.Y.Lu – Taiwan
  20. Osmanthus lanceolatus Hayata – Taiwan
  21. Osmanthus marginatus (Champ. ex Benth.) Hemsl.Nansei-shoto, Taiwan, Vietnam, Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang
  22. Osmanthus matsumuranus Hayata – Assam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Anhui, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang
  23. Osmanthus mexicanus LundellOaxaca, Chiapas, El Salvador, Honduras
  24. Osmanthus minor P.S.GreenFujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Jiangxi, Zhejiang
  25. Osmanthus monticola (Schltr.) Knobl.New Caledonia
  26. Osmanthus pubipedicellatus L.C.Chia ex H.T.ChangGuangdong
  27. Osmanthus reticulatus P.S.GreenGuangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, Sichuan
  28. Osmanthus rigidus NakaiKyushu
  29. Osmanthus scortechinii King & Gamble – Thailand, Sumatra, Pen Malaysia
  30. Osmanthus serrulatus Rehder in C.S.Sargent – Sichuan
  31. Osmanthus suavis King ex C.B.Clarke in J.D.HookerAssam, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, Myanmar, Yunnan, Tibet
  32. Osmanthus sumatranus P.S.Green – Sumatra
  33. Osmanthus urceolatus P.S.Green - Sichuan, Hubei
  34. Osmanthus venosus Pamp.Hubei
  35. Osmanthus yunnanensis (Franch.) P.S.GreenYunnan, Tibet
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, 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.


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. 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.[4] Sweet osmanthus and osmanthus tea are particularly associated with the city of Guilin (桂林, literally "Forest of Sweet Osmanthus").

Osmanthus wine flavours huangjiu or other rice wines with full osmanthus blossoms and is traditionally consumed during the Mid-Autumn Festival.


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ a b c Flora of China, v 15 p 286, 木犀属 mu xi shu, Osmanthus Loureiro, Fl. Cochinch. 1: 28. 1790.
  4. ^ Jonathan Thompson. "What are the health benefits of drinking Osmanthus tea?".

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