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Osmanthus fragrans (fragrant olive)

Fragrant olive is an evergreen tree or shrub with strongly scented flowers. It is cultivated as an ornamental and has a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine and flavouring tea and confectionery.
Osmanthus fragrans

Detail of an illustration of Osmanthus fragrans by Lilian Snelling

Species information

Scientific name: 

Osmanthus fragrans Lour.

Common name: 

fragrant olive, tea olive, sweet olive

Conservation status: 

Not known to be threatened.



Key Uses: 

Ornamental, culinary, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Osmanthus

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.


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