Monday, March 14, 2011

Osmanthus delavayi--Delavay Tea Olive

This bush fills the air nearby with a soft fragrance. It reminds some people of peach yogurt, others of baby powder. It is blooming now at the UC Botanical garden, and is covered in white flowers with curled-back petals. Osmanthus is in the olive family, but people eat the flowers, not the fruits. They are used as a garnish, in potpouri, or to flavor tea in the same way that jasmine is used.

It is a sacred plant and grown on the courtyard gardens of Chinese and Japanese temples. It has been cultivated for hundreds of years. People kneel before this plant as they would bow to a deity. The fragrance is considered an offering to the Gods. In the fall when most of the Osmanthus bushes bloom, festivals are held to honor them.

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