Plant of the Month May 2016

May POM WEbsize


Pittosporum is a genus of about 200 species of flowering shrubs and small trees in the family Pittosporaceae. They originate from Australasia, eastern Asia to parts of Africa.

In the UK P. tenuifolium is widely grown for its glossy evergreen leaves with a wavy margin and small deep purple sweetly scented flowers in spring.

At Reveley P. tenuifolium is flowering in the shrubbery at the entrance to the garden from the stable yard, and also at the back of the rose garden. In the bed by the pond is a dainty form P. Margaret Turnbull with wavy light green leaves speckled with white. All have a sweet honey scent, that is pronounced on mild days. You may have to search for the source of the perfume as the flowers are so small.

The seed is a capsule with woody seeds coated in a sticky resin. These give rise to naming the genus from the Greek meaning ‘pitch seed’. Many herbivores dislike the resinous taste which may help to protect the seeds; however the kea eats them with relish.

P. resiniferum yields petroleum nut oil which has been proposed as a biofuel. Though this does not seem to be very practical.

A common name for Pittosporum is Cheesewood but it is also applied to a number of other unrelated plants. Does this mean the wood is soft?    

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