Lottah Nursery Tasmania, Australia

Daphne odora

Syn. 'Winter Daphne', 'Sweet Daphne'

Native to China and possibly adjoining countries, this evergreen daphne has been in cultivation for so long it is impossible to determine its native range.

By far the most ubiquitous daphne species in Australia, there is hardly a temperate garden which does not sport a plant or two. It begins flowering in mid-July when scarcely another plant is in leaf, much less in flower, and maintains this show for several weeks.

Flower buds are reddish purple, opening to intensely fragrant purplish-white flowers; a single sprig is sufficient to perfume a room.

Leaves are leathery, about 95 x 30 mm, almost sessile.

odora is generally seen as a rounded shrub to 1 m height, although plants in the wild may reach twice that. We have grown it exposed to full sun, and have found no less healthy plants growing in locations shaded for much of the day.

A white flowered variety ('Alba') is sometimes encountered, as well as a selection with leaves rarrowly edged cream ('Aureo-marginata'). It may be possible to locate plants sporting leaves with white or yellow blotches - these would most likely be caused by virus infection and are best avoided.
Several new variants with broad creamy yellow margins have been selected in recent years; 'Mae Jima' from Japan with wide bright yellow margins appears to be outstanding.

Although Daphne odora is undoubtedly a species, seed set is almost unknown possibly because the flowers have somehow mutated to sterility over a long history of multiplication through clonal means.

We would like to dispel the notion that D. odora requires acid soil conditions to flourish. While excessive lime may be detrimental to growth, as would be the case for any number of genera, the plant is very tolerant to a wide range of pH, from neutral to acidic.

(click on thumbnails for larger images)

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Daphne odora in flower
Daphne odora flowers

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