Pittosporum, Pittosporum tobira

Bush of the family Pittosporaceae

Etymology: from Greek pitta, "resin, or pitch" and sporos, "seed", allusion to the (sticky) resinous substance which coats seeds. "Tobira" is the Japanese name.
Pittosporum tobira is native to China, South Korea, Japan. Other species are native to New Zealand (Pittosporum crassifolium and Pittosporum eugenioides which is a tree that can attain 13 m tall).
Habitat: sunny position, half-shade, but fears severe colds, rich soils. Adapted well to Mediterranean climate. It resists spray, strong temperatures, drought.
Hardiness: .
Pittosporum tobira: zone 7 (it supports cold until -17 °C or 1 °F). It is met on the coasts of the Mediterranean sea, as well as on the Basque coast.
Pittosporum heterophyllum: zone 8 (it supports cold until -12 °C or 10 °F).
Pittosporum tenuifolium
: zone 8 (it supports cold until -12 °C or 10 °F).
Size: 2 - 7 m tall.
Shape: in dome. Exposed to the violence of the coastal winds, it resists and models itself "in flag".
Trunks: multiples.
Bark: smooth, grey.
Leaves: persistent, obovate, acuminate, green-dark, shining. From 5 to 7 cm long.
They are almost sessile (no petiole). The midrib is very marked. They are grouped in whorls.
Flowers: white or yellow lemon, petals, 5 mm in diameter. They are fragrant and bloom from May to June Their heady scent evokes that of orange. Other species have red or purple flowers (Pittosporum crassifolium).
Fruit: capsule globose, gray.
Use: in free form (it forms a big shrub trimmed with leaves in its upper half) or in pruned hedges. Pittosporum indeed supports very well pruning, even strict.
Seeds of Pittosporum crassifolium, it is possible to extract a blue tincture. The plant is rich in saponin.
Pittosporum eugenioides produces a resin, by incision of the bark. The resin is used as a chewing gum.


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