Sweet Osmanthus Plant

In 1789, an osmanthus specimen was introduced to the Kew Gardens in England. The specimen was from southern China, but it didn’t survive the cool English climate. The French botanist Jean Marie Delavay re-introduced osmanthus to European gardeners in the mid-19th century.

Sweet osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans) is a flowering plant native to Asia. It is popular for its attractive flowers and fragrant aroma. Most parts of the sweet osmanthus plant have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, cuisine, and crafts. In this article, we’ll talk about the many uses and benefits of this useful plant.

Sweet Osmanthus Flowers

5 Culinary Uses of Sweet Osmanthus

The tender apricot-scented flowers and leaves of sweet osmanthus are used to infuse flavor and fragrance into food and beverages. Here are some of the culinary applications:

Osmanthus Tea

One of the most popular uses for sweet osmanthus is osmanthus tea. The dried flowers are used alone or blended with black or green tea leaves. Osmanthus tea has a fruity aroma, sweet taste, and golden color. It is caffeine-free and consumed hot or cold.

Osmanthus Cake

Sweet osmanthus adds its distinct aroma to cakes and pastries. The flowers are sometimes candied or made into a syrup and used to glaze mooncakes and other Chinese desserts.

Osmanthus Wine

The flowers are used to scent sweet osmanthus wine, known as gui hua wine. It has a mild floral bouquet and intensely sweet aroma.


The flowers and leaves are used to infuse a floral aroma and flavor into honey, vinegar, and sweets. They are also used as a seasoning for meat and poultry dishes.

Osmanthus Jelly

The flowers are used to make fragrant jellies and jams. Osmanthus jelly is a traditional dessert in China, enjoyed for its delicate floral flavor. It is often served with green tea.

Osmanthus Jelly

3 Purposes of Sweet Osmanthus in Traditional Medicine

Scientific research reveals that O. fragrans contains antioxidants. It may also have the potential as an anti-inflammatory and to reduce oxidative stress. In traditional Chinese medicine and apitherapy, sweet osmanthus has many health benefits:

Respiratory Relief

Osmanthus tea is used to treat coughs, soothe sore throats, and clear phlegm. The aroma is believed to open the lungs.

Immune Booster

Osmanthus contains antioxidants that may support the immune system and help fight infections.

Calming and Digestive Effect

Sweet osmanthus tea has a calming effect and is used to relieve stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Osmanthus tea can also promote digestion, soothes stomachaches, and relieves diarrhea.

Osmanthus Tea

3 Uses of Sweet Osmanthus in Fragrance and Crafts 

The delicate apricot-like fragrance of sweet osmanthus flowers has been prized for centuries. The aroma is extracted for perfumes and other uses:

Perfume and Bath Products

Osmanthus absolute and fragrance oil are valued ingredients in perfumes. The aroma is reminiscent of ripe peaches. Sweet osmanthus flowers and extracts are added to soaps, bath salts, and cosmetics for aroma and skincare benefits.


Small muslin sachets are filled with dried flowers and placed in closets, dresser drawers, or luggage to impart a sweet fragrance.

Floral Arrangements

The golden yellow flowers add visual interest and scent to floral displays. They are a traditional Chinese decoration.

Dried Sweet Osmanthus Flowers

3 Functions of Sweet Osmanthus in Landscaping

Beyond its uses, sweet osmanthus is a versatile shrub with many landscape benefits:

Hedges and Screens

Sweet osmanthus makes a durable hedge or privacy screen. Some varieties have yellow-variegated leaves. And its shiny dark green leaves contrast nicely against lighter colored plants. And it draws attention with its fragrant blooms.

Shade Tree

Sweet osmanthus tree varieties grow to 35 feet tall. Their dense canopy can provide useful shade in gardens and patios for people.

Urban Tolerant

Osmanthus can thrive in difficult urban conditions including heat, drought, pollution, and poor soil, which is a tough, low-maintenance plant.

Sweet Osmanthus Tree


From its use in tea and cuisine to perfumes and potpourri, sweet osmanthus has many versatile applications. For centuries, it has been valued for its intense apricot-like fragrance and subtle floral flavor. With shiny evergreen foliage and scented yellow blooms, osmanthus adds year-round beauty and fragrance to gardens. Next time you encounter sweet osmanthus, remember its long history as both a useful and ornamental plant.

By p ly

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