Osmanthus Delavayi

Photograph: Sharron R. McMillan

Photograph: Sharron R. McMillan

Osmanthus Delavayi – Such an elegant name for a lovely shrub.  The flowers are edible, floated as a fragrant garnish in drinks, or dried & added as a seasoning in fancy tea mixes, or in potpourri.
In China it was a traditional plant of courtyard temple grounds, the sweet flowers considered  an offering to the gods. Discovered by the Jesuit missionary-botanist Fr. Pierre Jean Marie Delavay in the mountains near Lan-kong in Yunnan province in 1890. He sent seed to the French nurseryman Vilmorin. Though Maurice de Vilmorin distributed the seed among various correspondents, only a single seed germinated. All the O. delavayi of European gardens were cloned from this one source, until George Forrest obtained further supplies of seed in China after World War I.  It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

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