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Pittosporum tobira

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Pittosporum tobira

Pittosporum tobira makes one of the best Algarve hedges of all, with its scented white flowers, shiny green leaves and red sticky seed pods, but you will have to be very patient as it is a slow grower.


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This beautiful broadleafed evergreen shrub or small tree can reach up to 15 ft (4.6 m) in height and approximately the same in width. In general the Japanese pittosporum grows taller in the shade while those grown in full sun are more compact. In both situations the plant assumes an upright round-headed form with branches radiating out from around the stems. There is a dwarf variety that grows to only about 2 ft (0.6 m) in height called ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’. This densely branched and compact shrub forms neat bushel basket size mounds that find use in groundcover plantings, especially in commercial landscapes. The leathery leaves are glossy on the top with undersides that are lighter and have a dull surface. These very ornamental leaves reach a length of from 1-5 in (2.5-12.7 cm) and up to 1 in (2.5 cm) wide with edges that recurve (curl down and inward). They are arranged alternately in a whorl around the stem, an arrangement that provides dense foliage which I think enhances the plant’s interest and attractiveness. There is also a popular variegated form that seems to be more frequently grown than the species. It has grey-green leaves with cream-colored irregular margins that permit it to make a pleasing contrast in mixed plantings.

Another common name for this plant is Japanese mockorange because the scent put forth by its blossoms is similar to that of the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). The small flowers are about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) in diameter and are held in clusters at the branch tips. They are pure white when they emerge from the bud and slowly age to a mellow creamy yellow. They appear in late spring and last for several weeks. Flowers are more noticeable and attractive on the nonvariegated plants thanks to the handsome background of dark green foliage.

Pittosporum tobira

Pittosporum tobira