Gardenia

Gardenia jasminoides (Rubiaceae)

Characteristics

Evergreen shrub, rounded habit, dense branches. Bark greyish. Leaves dark green, shiny, leathery, with prominent veins, opposite. Flowers white, up to 10 cm in diameter, matte texture in contrast to the glossy leaves, among the most strongly fragrant of all flowers.

Distribution

Native to India, Southern China and Southeast Asia. With its shiny leaves and heavily fragrant white flowers, it is widely used in gardens in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical climates, and as a houseplant in temperate regions.

Natural Medical Properties

The whole plant is antispasmodic, antiperiodic, cathartic, anthelmintic and external-antiseptic.
The bark contains beta-sitosterol and nonakosane, the leaves and flowers contain mannite.The seeds contain starch and an oil which is principally composed of palmitic, oleic and linoleic acid.

The roots are used to treat headache, dyspepsia, nervous disorders, and fever.

The leaves are applied in febrifugous poultices.

The fruits are used against jaundice and diseases of the kidneys and lungs.

Did you know?

Gardenia has been in cultivation in China for at least a thousand years and was introduced to English gardens in the mid-18th century. Many varieties have been bred for horticulture.

Related (same family) to coffee (Coffea arabica, # 6).

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species