The smell of osmanthus flowers filled the neighborhood’s sidewalks lined by osmanthus hedges … until a typhoon wiped out all the flowers and washed away all sign of the flowers.
Osmanthus is used the most in perfume concoctions of the world.
|Between the house and the outer gate there was a bushy osmanthus tree. It spread its branches into the night as if to block my way. I looked at the dark outline of the leaves and thought of the fragrant flowers that would be out in the autumn. I said to myself, I have come to know this tree well, and it has become, in my mind, an inseparable part of Sensei’s house. As I stood in front of the tree, thinking of the coming autumn when I would be walking up the path once more, the porch light suddenly went out. I stepped out alone into the dark street.|
|From “Kokoro” by Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), translated by Edwin McClellan published by Charles E. Tuttle|
The flowers of the osmanthus, or sweet olive tree, are simple, but their fragrance is very fine, something like apricot and jasmine combined. You can often find this small tree planted in city parks, sometimes in clusters of three or four to intensify the power of their perfume. The variety known as kinmokusei (golden olive) has warm apricot-colored flowers, and there is also a white flowered variety called ginmokusei (silver olive). Unfortunately, the flowers do not last long, but when they fall they cover the ground like tiny fallen stars. Osmanthus is a member of the Oleaceae family of plants, which includes the olive and sweet-scented lilac. Incidentally, the little bird is an enaga (long-tailed tit).