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Osmanthus heterophyllus - (G.Don.)P.S.Green.

Common Name Holly Olive, Holly osmanthus, Chinese Holly, Holly Tea Olive, False Holly
Family Oleaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats In evergreen forests from the lowlands to elevations of 600 metres[275].
Range E. Asia - Japan, Taiwan.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Osmanthus heterophyllus Holly Olive, Holly osmanthus, Chinese Holly, Holly Tea Olive, False  Holly

Osmanthus heterophyllus Holly Olive, Holly osmanthus, Chinese Holly, Holly Tea Olive, False  Holly


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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late fall, Mid fall. Form: Rounded, Upright or erect, Vase.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Osmanthus heterophyllus is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6. It is in leaf all year, in flower from September to October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


O. aquifolium. O. illicifolius. Ilex heterophyllus. Olea illicifolia.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Hedge  Hedge  Wood

The plant takes kindly to pruning and makes a dense hedge or screen[11, 29, 182]. Any trimming is best carried out in mid-summer[188]. Wood. Used for small furniture, toys etc[46, 61].

Special Uses

Hedge  Hedge  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Pest tolerant, Hedge, Screen, Superior hedge, Specimen. Prefers a good loamy soil[1], but succeeds in any soil, including chalk, in sun or part shade[11, 184]. Dislikes unduly exposed conditions but succeeds in windier conditions than most other members of this genus[200]. Hardy to about -15°c[184], but plants are sometimes affected by severe prolonged frosts[1]. The form 'Purpureus' is said to be the hardiest variety[184]. Plants are very tolerant of being transplanted, moving well even when quite large[182]. The flowers are deliciously scented but plants only occasionally fruit in Britain[182]. If plants are clipped after flowering they will flower more freely each year[200]. A number of named forms have been developed for their ornamental value[182]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Fragrant flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a coldframe[200]. Stored seed probably germinates best if it is given 3 months warm then 3 months cold stratification before sowing[113]. 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[11]. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 7 - 12cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. A good percentage. Plant out in the spring 18 months later[78]. Layering in spring[200] or autumn[78]. Partially sever the layer leads in the following late summer and plant out in the autumn. High percentage[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Osmanthus americana Tree15.0 -  LMHSNM102
Osmanthus decorus Shrub3.0 6-9  LMHSNDM003
Osmanthus delavayi Shrub3.5 6-9 SLMHSNDM003
Osmanthus fragransFragrant OliveShrub6.0 8-11  LMHSNM222
Osmanthus x burkwoodii Shrub3.0 5-9 SLMHSNM003

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

Graham Vine   Thu Jan 4 2007

I am much obliged for your most helpful web page about this subject as mine has suffered a sad decline during this year just passed. It seems most likely that lack of water at a critical period may have killed it off as it is planted upon a raised bed in our garden's NW corner and, until this year, has flourished there. The soil in this bed is a fairly light loam much dressed with good compost, commercially produced, from a local large scale composting plant run by Onyx Recycling so our Osmanthus has been well cared for in that respect and moisture retention in the raised bed has been very good. It seems that, this year, due to an even dryer growing season and a hosepipe ban, these precautions were insufficient and the plant has, progressively, wilted and died, branch by branch. The sole remaining branch is now in terminal decline ! As it is a much loved plant both by us and our small birds, replacement is a high priority. We shall, clearly, have to pay much closer attention to the moisture content of the soil in this raised bed and not assume that, because it is located in this dampest corner of our garden that this will ensure its well-being. On another tack altogether, I was amused to read your comment upon Usher's book having a sexist title. Whilst I believe you are guilty of over-reaction, I am sure you are right that there is a deficiency in our vocabulary because there is no adequate, generic, name in English for humanity as a whole. I would be content with "Man" myself if the male specific were to be changed to "hemale" as opposed to "female and, perhaps, as a counter to "woman", masculinity were emphasised by some suitably masculine organ-related identifier, such as "penman" or even "sperman". Does this appeal to you, perhaps ? Whatever - I shall add your webpage to my Favourites. Many thanks.

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