This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Greek for olive tree, from the resemblance of the fruit). Celastraceae. Tropical shrubs or small trees, some kinds of which are grown in the juvenile state under glass for the interesting foliage.
Leaves simple, entire or crenate, opposite or alternate, thickish, frequently evergreen: flowers inconspicuous, greenish or white, in axillary or lateral clusters; calyx usually 4-5-parted; petals 4-5, and exceeding the calyx; stamens 4-5, inserted under the edge of the thick disk; ovary single, mostly 3-celled; style very short: fruit a small fleshy or nearly dry drupe. - Species probably upward of 40, in Africa, India to Austral., and somewhat in S. Amer. Very closely allied to Cassine, a South African genus.
Jacq. A graceful and handsome plant: the mature leaves are very different from the juvenile leaves, being obovate, obtuse, crenate, cuneate at base, and 2-3 m. long, and the slender graceful young leaves pass into them by gradual transition': flowers less than 1/4in. across in close axillary cymes which are shorter than the leaves; pedicels equaling or surpassing the corolla; calyx deeply lobed; petals yellow-green: drupe size of olive, oblong. Madagascar, Mauritius. - The plant holds its lower foliage well, or throws out new foliage to take the place of that which drops. It thrives in either an intermediate or a warmhouse. Prop, by single eye cuttings in small pots, kept rather warm. It has been said that Aralia Chabrieri of gardens belongs to this species (although of a different family)) but this is apparently an error. See Polyscias for a discussion of this plant.
Vent. Intro, into S. Calif, from Austral., and prized for its holly-like foliage. In its native habitat it is a tree 30-40 ft. high, producing useful close-grained wood: leaves mostly opposite, ovate to oblong-lanceolate, nearly or quite obtuse, entire or open-crenate, coriaceous, very reticulate beneath: flowers with parts in 4's: drupe about 1/2in.. long, red, ovoid or globular. l. H. B.