Tea Olive Holly aka False Holly ( Osmanthus heterophyllus )

Tea (false) holly

This plant took some digging to id. I thought for sure it was Chinese or Japanese privet, but the young leaves are holly like and I couldn’t find mention of holly like young leaves on any description of privet. Older leaves are oval in shape with no trace of the holly like points they started out with.

The previous owners of this house were not gardeners. There were about 40 of these planted around the base of the house. They had grown to over 8′ tall and were blocking windows on two sides of the house. Out they came. I did leave a few but cut them back to the ground. The homeowner’s association sent me a nasty letter about the joys of native plants. These are not native plants.

These are nice thick, dense shrubs that will grow in sun or shade, wet areas or dry. You can cut them back to the ground and they will come back. You can shape them into trees or just about any other shape you’d like.

They are ever green and have small white flowers come spring. The flowers are heavily scented. They can reach 15′-20′ tall.

The flowers are used to scent tea and make perfume in Asia.

These are prone to scale, and require frequent pruning. While they make a nice deep green border plant I found them to be more trouble than they were worth to me and removed them.

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