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PlantFiles: American Devilwood, Wild Olive
Osmanthus americanus

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Osmanthus (os-MAN-thus) (Info)
Species: americanus (a-mer-ih-KAY-nus) (Info)

Synonym:Osmanthus americanus var. americanus

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By lilwren
Thumbnail #1 of Osmanthus americanus by lilwren

By escambiaguy
Thumbnail #2 of Osmanthus americanus by escambiaguy

By victorgardener
Thumbnail #3 of Osmanthus americanus by victorgardener


2 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Fires_in_motion On Jul 7, 2014, Fires_in_motion from Vacherie, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

What a cool tree! Glossy camellia-esque leaves, a multi-trunked (or single-trunked, if you're boring) habit, evergreen foliage, undemanding water requirements... the list goes on. It's baffling to me that every single house in the Southeast doesn't have one of these trees. Gee, I wonder why that could be? Oh yeah, because the boring, rough-leaved junk tree called Sweet Olive, from Asia, is the only Osmanthus that is sold at every plant nursery, big box store, etc... Sigh.
My only concern is that the wood is legendarily strong, and the roots are described as being shallow, and the combination of stiff limbs + shallow roots usually means a tree that tips over easily in high winds. Which could be a problem here in hurricane country.
I just planted mine today (7/7/14) after having it in a pot for 2 years. I actually ripped out an underperforming juvenile Shumard oak to do so.

Neutral kydrummer On Apr 18, 2014, kydrummer from Silver Spring, MD wrote:

Osmanthus americanus is dioecious, i.e. plants are either male or female.

Positive coriaceous On Mar 3, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is usually a shrub reaching 15-25' rather than a tree. Loose and open in habit, unlike the Asian osmanthus species, it would look good in a naturalistic setting.

Flowers are inconspicuous but fragrant, bloom occurs at the beginning of June.

There's a shrubby specimen in the Arnold Arboretum (Boston, Z6a) that's been there for over 20 years. I've seen occasional snow damage, quickly grown over, but never any winter dieback. The healthy foliage is fully evergreen and never suffers any winter damage here. Doesn't seem to get more than 6-8' tall here.

Neutral melody On Nov 18, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A Southern tree or large shrub with shiny, evergreen leaves. Mainly located along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast.

The foliage somewhat resembles that of the Mountain Laurel, although the Devilwood has more narrow leaves. Seen in bottomlands and other fertile soils.

The blue fruits are fleshy and one seeded. Wildlife and songbirds find them attractive.

Wood is difficult to split...probably one of the reasons for it's name.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama
Saraland, Alabama
Wilmington, Delaware
Brooksville, Florida
Crawfordville, Florida
Georgetown, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Vacherie, Louisiana
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Charleston, South Carolina

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