Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Osmanthus americanus Benth. & Hook.f

Frost-hardy, large evergreen shrub or small tree with leathery, lance-shaped leaves, to 15cm long, and short axillary panicles of fragrant white flowers in spring.  [Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Osmanthus Americanus inhabits the coast region of the south Atlantic and Gulf states from the valley of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina to the shores of the Kissimmee River and Tampa Bay, Florida, and eastern Louisiana.  It grows usually in moist rich soil near the borders of streams and Pine-barren ponds and swamps, and occasionally on dry sandy upland.

The wood of Osmanthus Americanus is heavy, very hard and strong, close-grained, and difficult to work; it contains radiating groups of open cells arranged parallel with the thin obscure medullary rays, and is dark brown, with thick light brown or yellow sapwood.  The specific gravity of the absolutely dry wood is 0.8111, a cubic foot weighing 50.55 pounds.

The Devil Wood, which owes its popular name to the character of the wood, which is difficult to split, was first described by Mark Catesby in the Natural History of Carolina, and was introduced into Europe in the middle of the eighteenth century.  It is now rarely cultivated, although its large lustrous leaves, its fragrant flowers and handsome fruit make it a desirable inhabitant of the gardens of temperate regions.’  [Sargent - Silva of North America vol.6, p.66, t.CLLXXIX/1894].

Introduced to Europe in 1758.  [Don].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.712/1843].


Published Jan 20, 2010 - 12:35 PM | Last updated Jan 20, 2010 - 12:43 PM

The line drawing shows leaves, axillary flower panicles and flower detail.  Silva of North America vol.6, t.CLLXXIX/1894.

Osmanthus americanus Benth. & Hook.f | Silva of North America vol.6, p.66, t.CLLXXIX/1894 | BHL

Family Oleaceae
Region of origin

South East United States

  • Olea americana L.
  • Amarolea americana Small
Common Name

American olive, Devil wood

Name in the Camden Park Record

Olea Americana - American olive 

Confidence level high