Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) W. T. Aiton

Japanese mock orange, Japanese cheesewood, tobira
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Pittosporum tobira
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Pittosporum tobira: Appearance of the shrub all year round

Appearance of the shrub all year roundAlternate, leathery, glossy leaves with an obtuse apex; they tend to cluster towards the end of the branchBranch with flowers arranged in a corymb; petals become yellowish as they witherBranch with capsules; two have split into 2-3 valves, exposing the seeds covered by a sticky substance

Pittosporum: From "pitta" (Gr.) = pitch, resin, and "spora" (Gr.) = spore, seed, because of the viscous seed coat of this plant

tobira: door leaf (Japanese)


Habit: Evergreen highly branched shrub or small tree 1-2(6) m tall, with brown almost smooth bark and a compact, rounded crown.

Leaves: alternate, densely clustered towards the tips of twigs, persistent, simple, with short petioles; blade 5-10 cm long. x 2-4 cm wide, obovate-spatulate, obtuse, with an entire somewhat revolute margin, leathery, glossy above, glabrous.

Flowers: hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, hypogynous, fragrant, pentamerous, in umbrella-shaped or corymbiform bunches; sepals 5, lanceolate; petals 5, free, somewhat fleshy, white (yellowish when they start to wither); stamens 5, inconspicuous; gynoecium syncarpous, 2-5-carpellate, with a superior ovary and a single style.

Fruit: globose to obovoid capsule ± 1 cm in diam. that opens into 2-5 valves, releasing several seeds covered with a sticky substance.


It flowers in spring; fruits mature at the end of autumn or beginning of winter.

Geographic origin

Native to E China and S Japan.


It is one of the evergreen shrubs most cultivated as ornamentals in parks and gardens and to form hedges. The fragrance of its flowers is very similar to that of orange blossoms, of the genus Citrus.

It is propagated from seeds or semi-hardwood cuttings.

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