Ancient Greek name.
Evergreen shrubs and small trees. Leaves opposite, entire or toothed. Flowers small, in clusters in the axils of the previous year's growth, greenish white, fragrant. Sepals and petals 4. Petal lobes with a short tube. Fruit an ovoid drupe containing a single seed.
P. latifolia L., Jasmine Box, from S Europe and SW Asia grows to a medium-sized, densely branched tree 6-8 m tall and was quite widely planted in the 19th century. [P. media L.] Old trees flowering in spring and fruiting in summer may be seen in botanic gardens and in long-established parks or gardens, such as Centennial Park in Sydney. The leaves vary in size and number of marginal spines and are often susceptible to discolouration by insect pests, which is a feature for recognition. The leaves are also quite similar to those of Quercus ilex.Two trees at least 120 years old in 1995 could be seen on the old Cobb &Co. route outside the hotel at Sutton Forest in NSW and in Vic there are specimens in Castlemaine and other provincial botanic gardens. Distinguished from the occasionally cultivated other European species, P. angustifolia, in having a blunt, not minutely pointed fruit, and in having broader leaves with 7-11 distinct vein pairs, rather than 4-6 pairs of well-spaced, indistinct vein pairs.
Semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings, occasionally by seed.
Sometimes used for timber.
Extremely difficult to distinguish from Osmanthus but said to differ in having a brittle inner seed covering rather than a bony one.
4 species from Madeira and the Mediterranean region to N Iran.
Source: (2002). Oleaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.