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Common Name: Fragrant Olive
Photograph by: Achillu
Osmanthus fragrans is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 6.00 metres tall.
It has edible, medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
E. Asia - China, Japan, Himalayas.
Mountains of S. Japan[
]. 1200 - 2100 metres in the Himalayas[
]. Forests, in association with Ilex dipyrena and Castanopsis spp, at elevations of 1300 - 3000 metres in Nepal[
Easily grown in any well-drained soil in sun or part shade[
], but flowering more freely in a sunny position[
]. Thrives in chalky conditions[
]. Dislikes unduly exposed positions[
], and requires shelter from freezing winds[
Not very hardy outdoors in Britain[
], it succeeds on a wall in Cornwall[
] or in a woodland garden in the milder areas of the country[
The flowers are very fragrant[
]. They are sometimes available in oriental stores, preserved in sweetened brine or as a sugary paste called 'cassia blossom jam'[
The unripe fruits are preserved in brine like olives[
The very fragrant flowers are used by the Chinese to impart a pleasant aroma to tea, wine and sweet dishes such as lotus seed soup, pastries and steamed pears[
]. They are also added to herbal medicines in order to disguise obnoxious flavours[
]. The flowers have a scent of apricots[
The flowers are antitussive[
]. They are used in cosmetics for the hair and skin, but are mostly used to flavour other medicines[
A decoction of the stem bark is used in the treatment of boils, carbuncles etc[
]. A past made from the stem or bark is used in the treatment of boils, carbuncles, whoping cough and retinitis[
A decoction of the lateral roots is used in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea, rheumatism, bruises etc[
An essential oil is obtained from the flowers[
]. Used as a flavouring.
The flowers are used as an insect repellent for clothes[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a coldframe[
]. Stored seed probably germinates best if it is given 3 months warm then 3 months cold stratification before sowing[
]. The seed usually takes 6 - 18 months to germinate, it should be pricked out into individual pots when it is large enough to handle. Grow the plants on for their first winter in the greenhouse and plant them out in early summer.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood taken at the end of July, in a frame with bottom heat[
Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 7 - 12cm with a heel, September/early autumn in a cold frame. A good percentage. Plant out in the spring 18 months later[
Layering in spring[
] or autumn[
]. Partially sever the layer leads in the following late summer and plant out in the autumn. High percentage[