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Jasminum sambac

Common Names: Arabian jasmine

Family: Oleaceae (olive Family)

Description

Arabian jasmine is a bushy vine or scrambling shrub with shiny dark green leaves and fragrant little white flowers. Some of the evergreen leaves are in whorls of three and others are in opposite pairs. The long, angular shoots twist and twine as they clamber and sprawl over and through any support they can find. The waxy snow white flowers are about 1 in (2.5 cm) across, borne in clusters of 3-12, and intensely fragrant. They fade to pink as they age. Arabian jasmine blooms throughout the summer – and almost continuously in warm climates. The fruits are small black berries, but are seldom formed in cultivation. By far, the most common form of Arabian jasmine in cultivation is ‘Grand Duke of Tuscany’ (sometimes called ‘Flore Pleno’), which has double flowers that look like miniature gardenias. Expect an Arabian jasmine to grow no more than 6-10 ft (1.8-3.1 m) high and just as wide in frostfree areas; smaller when it has to regrow from roots following a winter freeze.

Location

Arabian jasmine has been in cultivation for centuries – so long, in fact, that its origin has been forgotten, but it was probably India, where today it is one of the most commonly cultivated ornamentals.

Culture

Arabian jasmine, like most of the other jasmines, is very easy to grow in almost any moist, but not waterlogged soil.

Light: Arabian jasmine likes full sun to partial shade.

Moisture: Supply plenty of water during the summer growing season, but reduce watering in winter.

Propagation: Arabian jasmine is easy to propagate from semi-ripe cuttings taken in summer, especially if you can keep them under intermittent mist for a couple weeks.

Usage

Arabian jasmine is often grown in a pot, on the patio or deck in summer and brought indoors in winter. Prune frequently to maintain a desirable shape. In frostfree climes, grow this fragrant beauty in mixed hedges or allow to sprawl in masses or as a specimen plant, pruned to a compact shrub. Here at the Christman homestead, we have an Arabian jasmine in a big pot on the front porch – where we can smell its sweet perfume whenever we walk by.

The dried flowers of Arabian jasmine are used by the Chinese to flavor jasmine tea. In Hawaii they use the flowers in leis. In India they’re used in garlands, and Arabian jasmine is the national flower of the Philippines.

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