Photo by Melody

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

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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


3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive longjonsilverz On Dec 17, 2014, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

This plant should used more often in landscapes, There isn't much to complain about. The flowers smell great. The leaves are dark, somewhat shiny and evergreen. Very low maintenance. Easy to transplant from my experience. Good for those looking for a U.S. native alternative for the related fragrant tea olive from Asia. The average size makes it easy to prune into a small tree and the slow growth rate keeps it from getting out of control. The cold hardiness is incredible for something that naturally comes from the warmer parts of the Southeastern States. Looks similar to some holly cultivars and redbay trees.

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:

Loose and open in habit, unlike the Asian osmanthus species, it looks good in a naturalistic setting. It doesn't seem to get more than 6-8' tall here in Boston Z6a. The national champion is 46' tall, in Florida, but even in the south, 15-25' is more usual.

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

There are shrubby specimens in the Arnold Arboretum (Boston, Z6a) that have 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. Dirr says that some selections have survived -20 to -25F.

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
Centreville, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Charleston, South Carolina

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