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



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Morton, Pennsylvania

Charleston, South Carolina

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 18, 2017, PhillyLover from Philadelphia Suburbs, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Planted mine in part shade in a dryish soil spot (thanks to some nearby mature black cherry trees) as a 1 gal about 5 years ago. It grows very slowly, maybe only about one foot a year in height and width. It hasn't flowered yet.

It has a loose, open habit. Fully evergreen here even exposed to winter wind and sun. The deer have never touched it.

It's not a showstopper but a nice-enough broad leaf evergreen when you get tired of the usual options.

I just bought a second one from Mail Order Natives.

Maybe I'll be lucky and have one of each sex so the birds will have fruit to eat someday.


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.


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 ... read more


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

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


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 and wide 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 here 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.


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.