Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Osmanthus americanus (American olive)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Osmanthus americanus

Osmanthus americanus (L.) Benth. & Hook. f. ex A. Gray

American Olive, Devilwood, Wild Olive

Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Synonym(s): Cartrema americana


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Evergreen shrub or small tree with narrow, oblong crown of paired, glossy, leathery leaves, and with dark blue fruit like small olives. Devilwood or Wild Olive is an irregularly rounded and open shrub or small tree to 30+ ft. with an equal spread. Its long, evergreen leaves are light green and leathery. The small, creamy-white flowers are extremely fragrant and are followed by blue-black fruit which resembles small cherries.

Devilwood was so named because the fine-textured wood is difficult to split and work. The fruit resembles the cultivated Olive in the same family. The genus name, Osmanthus, from the Greek words for "odor" and "flower," refers to the fragrant blossoms.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 45 feet tall, often shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May


USA: AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Coastal Plain from extreme s.e. VA to FL, w. to LA
Native Habitat: Rich woods; swamps

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Rich, moist, well-drained soil.
Conditions Comments: Wild olive can be liberally pruned to maintain shape.


Description: Wild olive may be rooted from late winter cuttings using a hormone or increased by division of shoots.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: FAC FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Osmanthus americanus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Osmanthus americanus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Osmanthus americanus


Record Modified: 2023-04-19
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back