Osmanthus delavayi

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Osmanthus delavayi
Osmanthus delavayi2.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Osmanthus
Species: O. delavayi
Binomial name
Osmanthus delavayi
  • Ligustrum phillyrea H.Lév.
  • Siphonosmanthus delavayi (Franch.) Stapf

Osmanthus delavayi is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae. It is an evergreen shrub native to the Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan regions of southern China, and widely cultivated as an ornamental in temperate and subtropical zones elsewhere.[2]


Osmanthus delavayi was discovered by the Jesuit missionary-botanist Fr Pierre Jean Marie Delavay in the mountains near Lan-kong in Yunnan province, China, in 1890. He sent seed to the French nurseryman Vilmorin. Though Maurice de Vilmorin distributed the seed among various correspondents, only a single seed germinated. All the O. delavayi of European gardens were cloned from this one source, until George Forrest obtained further supplies of seed in China after World War I.[3][4]


Over several weeks in late winter to spring, Osmanthus delavayi bears fragrant flowers that are more prominent but less fragrant than Osmanthus fragrans, but substitutes for O. fragrans in less balmy gardens. The shrub currently holds an Award of Garden Merit[5][6] from the Royal Horticultural Society which it first received in 1923 and has been praised by British garden writers. It is a garden staple in the east coast of Australia as far south as Tasmania.[7] Its USDA Zone range is 7-9 (it can survive -15C), making it hardy in sheltered locations as far north as coastal New York and in the Pacific Northwest. It is a medium sized shrub, eventually reaching up to 4 m (13 ft) tall and broad, though this may take up to 20 years, as the plant is relatively slow-growing.[5]

Osmanthus × burkwoodii[edit]

O. × burkwoodii, a garden hybrid of Osmanthus decorus × Osmanthus delavayi, (syn. ×Osmarea burkwoodii)[8] is also a popular garden shrub, and has also won an Award of Garden Merit.[9] Growing to 3 m (9.8 ft) tall and broad, it is somewhat more compact than O. delavayi. It is named after the brothers Arthur and Albert Burkwood, 19th century hybridisers.[10]


  1. ^ "The Plant List". 
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Osmanthus delavayi
  3. ^ Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964) 1992, s.v. "Osmanthus".
  4. ^ Franchet, Adrien René. 1886. Bulletin Mensuel de la Société Linnéenne de Paris 1(77): 613–614 Osmanthus delavayi
  5. ^ a b "RHS Plantfinder - Osmanthus delavayi". Retrieved 14 April 2018. 
  6. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 70. Retrieved 14 April 2018. 
  7. ^ Don Burke, The Complete Burke's Backyard: the ultimate book of fact sheets, s.v. "Osmanthus delavayi".
  8. ^ "Osmanthus × burkwoodii". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Retrieved 15 April 2018. 
  9. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Osmanthus × burkwoodii". Retrieved 14 April 2018. 
  10. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 184533731X.