Osmanthus americanus (Cartrema americana)

Osmanthus americanus (Cartrema americana)
Osmanthus americanus (Cartrema americana) 
devilwood, wild olive
SIZE/TYPE taller shrub
 small tree
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
FLOWERS less showy but noticeable
LOCATION full to partial sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist (dislikes drought)
USDA zone (lowest) 5b   (down to -27°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Evergreen broadleaf
Osmanthus is a genus of only about 15-20 evergreen species and varieties, and a genus which I fell in love with the first time I saw a few plants of. Their leathery and sometimes spiny leaves resemble hollies but osmanthus plants have something extra which gave them their name derived from Greek: osme = fragrance and anthos = flower. Osmanthus has tiny but highly fragrant flowers. I was an amateur when I bought the first plants and I had no idea that in all encyclopedias they were rated too tender for our C.E. climate. And since I never knew I put them to my garden. And after some 15 years of growing I can assure you that all of them not only survived even the worst winter of 2006/2007, they thrive and some of them are taller than me and I am very close to 2m. Including the most tender one o.fragrans. I keep on trialling more species and varieties because I noticed that they have some genetic predisposition for extreme drought tolerance in summer and some are even happy with dry soil in winter. And with current lack of precipitation we will need more of drought tolerant plants.

Devilwood is an American version of famous sweet olive shrub from Asia. These two plants, side by side, are difficult to differentiate. They can serve as a proof that there used to be just one piece of land on Earth (Pangea) before it split to seven continents. And individual species, though previously identical, evolved separately reflecting slightly changing growing conditions. In case of American devilwood the benefit is improved hardiness. After the discovery that osmanthus sp. was polyphyletic devilwood was segregated under cartrema genus in 2011.

Devilwood, or also called wild olive, is an evergreen mid-sized shrub or a small multistemmed tree of symmetrical, broadly oval to almost rounded canopy and dense habit. Leaves are leathery, rich green, slightly glossy, and have smooth, entire margins. They are elongated to broadly elliptic, 7-14 cm long. In spring appear tiny, creamy white, and very fragrant flowers.

The plant is difficult to propagate (either seeds or cuttings) hence its higher price and limited availability. Plant collectors will obviously give it a place of honour in their gardens, others can use it in mixed hedges and evergreen borders along with plants of differently shaped and sized foliage for a dramatical contrast (Japanese azaleas, Japanese holly etc.). Devilwood responds well to pruning and regenerates also when pruned hard into old wood. Spring pruning will enhance production of new twigs, summer trimming/clipping is good for shaping.

Grow osmanthus in moist but well-drained, humus rich, preferably acidic soil. It loves full sun and once established it does not require extra watering. It is hardy to about -27 °C without protection (USDA zone 5b), just a good mulch is advisable in regions with harsh and long-lasting winters.

Last update 19-10-2020

Osmanthus fragrans f.
Osmanthus fragrans f.
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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