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Tabernaemontana africana, Samoan Gardenia

Tabernaemontana africana

Samoan Gardenia
Family: Apocynaceae
Origin: Tropical West Africa, Senegal to Ghana
Large shrub 5-10 ftRegular waterWhite/off-white flowersFragrantAttracts butterflies, hummingbirdsUltra tropical, min. temperature 55F

It is a new plant introduction and is hard to find. The intoxicating sweet fragrant blossoms of pinwheel shape are creamy white.The plant blooms almost all year and has a wonderful spicy fragrance that carries a good distance both day and night. Many other white blooming plants are only fragrant at night. Blooming can be heavy or light depending on the bloom cycle. Flowers with 5 petals average 4 inches across and stand out nicely against the foliage, which is elliptic in shape. They are a pinwheeled shaped work of art. The foliage is very beautiful as well as its dark green shiny leaves. The semi-glossy leaves average 6 inches in length. This shrub likes acid soil conditions best. Treat it like a gardenia - plant it at least 5 to 6 feet away from any concrete or container is even better. It does well in filtered light locations or in morning sun. Although it's slow growing, it is capable of reaching 15 feet. A good supply of moisture and well-drained soil are the must. Use mulch around the plant to retain moisture, but keep the mulch 1 to 2 inches from the trunk so the bark will not rot.

This species very often mis-called as Tabernaemontana holstii, but according to taxonomic revision of Dr. Leeuwenberger (1988), T. holstii is actually a synonym of T. pachysiphon, close related species with larger leaves. The name T. holstii has been misused for the T. africana species for a long time. The common name Samoan Gardenia was traditionally used for the plant, so we leave it here as a popular name.

DWARF culivar Compacta from Hawaii - very bushy and compact, not leggy, grows as a bush unlike regular T. africana that grows into a small tree.

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