Evergreen Shrubs (6-10 ft)

Landscape Significance

Excellent salt tolerance makes pittosporum well suited for planting near the beach.

Pittosporums also make good hedges and screens due to their rapid growth rate, density and toughness.

  This photo was taken on Fort Sumter Drive, James Island, SC

Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira) is a tough, evergreen shrub commonly grown in mid and coastal South Carolina, but it is native to southern Japan and China. Its adaptability to many growing conditions make it popular in landscapes as hedges and foundation plantings.  Another common name for this plant is Japanese mockorange since it bears extremely fragrant, orange-blossom scented, flower clusters in early to mid spring which last for several weeks.

At maturity, the species can reach 8 to 12 feet or more in height, with a 12 to 18 foot spread. The natural form is dense and mounded.

Insect problems include cottony cushion scale, mealy bugs and aphids. Sooty mold is a certain sign of aphid or scale infestation. Root rot diseases can be lethal for pittosporum, so it should not be planted in areas where water accumulates after rains.

Identifying characteristics

Glossy evergreen leaves are alternately arranged in whorls at the ends of the branches. The leathery leaves are glossy on the top, but the undersides are lighter and have a dull surface. The leaves reach a length of from 1-5 in and up to 1 in wide with edges that recurve (curl down and inward). The cream-white flower clusters at the branch tips are two to three inches wide, with the highly scented small flowers about 0.5 in in diameter. The fruit is a capsule opening to reveal the seeds which are covered with a red fleshy skin. A popular variegated form has grey-green leaves with cream-colored irregular margins.

More information about pittosporum is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center: Clemson HGIC - Pittosporum


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