A traditional, famous flowering tree, Osmanthus fragrans, Lour. has been cultivated as an ornamental and scent plant for about 2,500 years in China. It was usually planted at the Imperial gardens in ancient China. A large number of poems had been written and popular mythical tales were told and read with admiration by Chinese peopIe. Since the Ming and Qing dynasty, the cultivation extended to the public in many regions especially in Suzhou, Hangzhou, Guiling, Xianing and Chengdu.
The small golden or yellowish flowers possess delicate fragrance and a fruity, sweet floral note. It was utilized as a traditional flavoring additive in pastries, candies, preserved fruits, wines and tea. Because of the recent development of the food and cosmetic industry in China, the concrete of Osmanthus fragrans is produced 500 kg. annually and used as ingredients of fragrances and flavors.
Osmanthusfragrans is a representative species of the genus Osmanthus, It is distributed widely in the south of Chinling Mountain and Huaihe River Basin, but it is always cultivated in a keg or barrel for ornamental purposes in North China, Green suggested that Osmanthus fragrans originated in Southeast Asi~ but now Southwest and south China is the central area of Osman thus fragrans. 2 According to the author’s investigation, north and mid sub-tropics is the main area of distribution of Osmanthus fragrans in China. Yangtse River Basin is more important in north sub-tropics and the output there is about 80 percent of the total yield while the producing areas are less in mid sub-tropics, with Guiling yielding about 20 percent of the total Chinese production.