Some 30 species of evergreen shrubs or small trees. Leaves opposite, simple, glabrous, leathery, glossy green above, small glandular depressions on the lower side, short petiole. Flowers white or yellowish, usually fragrant, calyx 4-toothed, corolla bell-shaped or tubular, limb with 4-lobes, 2-stamens. Fruit a single seeded hard shelled drupe. Native to southern U.S. (O. americanus, Devil Wood), Middle East, China and Japan.
Osmanthus fragrans, Fragrant Tea Olive, is one of the most popular gardens plants in China because of the fragrance of its tiny flowers. It blooms from autumn to spring, and because it is in bloom in mid-autumn, at the time of the moon festival, it has long been associated with lunar legends. To the Chinese the image visible in the full moon is an osmanthus bush (Valder, 1999).
Osmanthus: from Greek osme, fragrance, and anthos, flowers.
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