Sweet olive hides its fragrant bloom.

It may not seem like much to take notice of. Sweet olive, Osmanthus fragrans, resembles glossy privet, but is neither as glossy nor quite as richly green. The dense and evergreen foliage can work about as well for a formal hedge though. It is even better as a small and billowy tree. It gets at least as high as ground floor eaves, and can reach upstairs eaves.

The primary allure of sweet olive is its delightfully pervasive and fruity floral fragrance. Its small and slender clusters of tiny pale white, yellow or gold flowers are mostly obscured by foliage. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the fragrance might be difficult to identify. Bloom is most abundant before and after summer. Sporadic bloom happens at any time.

Because sweet olive is more olfactorily appealing than visually appealing, it works quite nicely as in informal hedge behind prettier plants. It can stay narrow between windows of neighboring homes that are a bit too close together. If enough flowers are available, they might flavor tea and confectionery. A cultivar with variegated foliage is unfortunately rare.


8 thoughts on “Sweet Olive

    1. Oh my, that is funny because the same happens at work. Only two live there. People who work in offices near them ask about the origin of their fragrance. Weirdly, some have asked about the same sort of fragrance in a third location, which makes me wonder if a third specimen is naturalized near there. No one knows if the two known specimens were planted or grew from seed, but they seemed to be strategically situated, as if planted intentionally. I recently dug and relocated one of the two, and it is doing remarkably well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That is another common name for it. I just did not mention it because I never heard it here before. It is actually a rather uncommon species here. The two at work may have grown from seed from an older specimen that is not gone, so may not have been planted intentionally.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It does not look like much, but certainly compensates. When I met it in school, the professor said that it was good outside windows that lacked views, or to obstruct unwanted views. That was how night blooming jasmine was commonly employed in Southern California.


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