Osmanthus is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae. Most of the species are native to eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Indochina, the Himalayas, etc.) with a few species from the Caucasus, New Caledonia and Sumatra.
Osmanthus range in size from shrubs to small trees, 2–12 m (7–39 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite, evergreen, and simple, with an entire, serrated or coarsely toothed margin. The flowers are produced in spring, summer or autumn, each flower being about 1 cm long, white, with a four-lobed tubular-based corolla ('petals'). The flowers grow in small panicles, and in several species have a strong fragrance. The fruit is a small (10–15 mm), hard-skinned dark blue to purple drupe containing a single seed.
Osmanthus are popular shrubs in parks and gardens throughout the warm temperate zone. Several hybrids and cultivars have been developed. Osmanthus flower on old wood and produce more flowers if unpruned. A pruned shrub often produces few or no flowers for one to five or more years, before the new growth matures sufficiently to start flowering.
In Japan, sweet osmanthus (gin-mokusei) is a favorite garden shrub. Its small white flowers appear in short-stalked clusters in late autumn. It has an intense sweet fragrance. A variant with deep golden flowers (kin-mokusei) is also popular.