Osmanthus fragrans (fragrant olive)
Detail of an illustration of Osmanthus fragrans by Lilian Snelling
Osmanthus fragrans Lour.
fragrant olive, tea olive, sweet olive
Not known to be threatened.
Ornamental, culinary, medicinal.
About this species
The generic name Osmanthus comes from the Greek osma, meaning fragrant, and anthos, meaning flower. Osmanthus fragrans certainly lives up to this name, having exquisitely scented flowers. It has been cultivated in China for about 2,500 years, and is still of importance there today, the flowers being widely used to flavour tea, wine and sweets, as well as an ingredient in herbal medicine. The city of Guilin (meaning ‘forest of sweet osmanthus’) is named after the numerous Osmanthus trees there. It is a popular street tree throughout the warmer parts of China, filling the air with scent on warm autumn evenings.