What is Pittosporum?

Article Details
  • Written By: S. Williams
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The average American has around 60 "bad days" a year; lack of sleep is the biggest contributing factor.  more...

October 20 ,  1973 :  The "Saturday Night Massacre"  more...

A member of the Pittosporaceae family, the Pittosporum genus includes about 28 species of large shrubs and small trees that have a wide variation in appearance. Some species have attractive foliage, while others have fragrant flowers. The most common flower colors are purple, yellow, and white, and the leaves range in color from silver to dark, shiny green. Smaller Pittosporum species are sometimes potted, but larger varieties can grow as high as 30 feet (a little over 9 meters). Pittosporums are native to New Zealand, Australia, and China and can be grown outside in milder growing regions.

When potting the Pittosporum, a well-draining, loamy soil should be used. If the climate is suitable, they can tolerate almost any type of soil when planted in the ground. Pruning is not required frequently, but should be done in the summer months when necessary. In warm, seaside areas, the Pittosporum can be used to create hedges. The preferred propagation method is to take cuttings in mid-summer and allow them to root in a cold frame device inside of a greenhouse for spring planting.


The Pittosporum tobira, also known as Japanese cheesewood or mock orange, is a flowering plant native to China and Japan. The mock orange can grow up to 20 feet (about 6 meters) high in its native habitat, but remains shorter in most other areas. The fragrant blossoms turn from white to yellow as they age and are reminiscent of orange blossoms. The leaves are thick, leathery, and dark-green and can grow to 4 inches (about 10 cm) long and 1.5 inches (almost 4 cm) wide. This cheesewood variety is considered highly toxic.

Also known as Tom Thumb in some areas, the Pittosporum tenuifolium is one of the hardiest species of the Pittosporum genus. While it may only grow to its full height of 30 feet (9 meters) in its mild native environment, it will survive cooler temperatures more often than any other species within this genus. The trunk can grow up to 1 foot (30 cm) in circumference and features a darkly-colored bark. The shiny, evergreen leaves change to a bronze-purple color as they age and grow from black or purplish stems. The blooms are small, dark-purple flowers that grow singly and emit a scent similar to honey.

Pittosporum crassifolium, or silver queen, is a large shrub that grows up to 18 feet (about 5.5 meters) tall. The silvery leaves are tough and thick with gray fuzz on the underside. Dull purple flowers are produced in thick clusters in May.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 1

I am trying to find out how much you should or should not water pittosporum tennifolium / silver sheen. We have a fully developed hedge about eight years old and they are starting to die spasmodically along the hedge. Is this normal? Do they only last a certain amount of time or is it lack or water or too much?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?