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Title: Pittosporum  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chavez Ravine Arboretum, Shrub, Pittosporum crassifolium, Pittosporum resiniferum, Pittosporum tobira
Collection: Pittosporum, Wood
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


For the asteroid, see 9306 Pittosporum.
Flowering twig of Japanese cheesewood (Pittosporum tobira)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Pittosporaceae
Genus: Pittosporum
Banks ex Sol.

About 200, see text


Citriobatus A.Cunn. ex Putt.

Pittosporum ( or )[1] is a genus of about 200 species of flowering plants in the family Pittosporaceae. The genus is probably Gondwanan in origin; its present range extends from Australasia, Oceania, eastern Asia and some parts of Africa. Citriobatus is usually included here, but might be a distinct (though closely related) genus. They are commonly known as pittosporums or, more ambiguously, "cheesewoods".

The species are trees and shrubs growing to 2–30 m tall. The leaves are spirally arranged or whorled, simple, with an entire or waved (rarely lobed) margin. The flowers are produced singly or in umbels or corymbs, each flower with five sepals and five petals; they are often sweetly scented. The fruit is a woody seed capsule, which bursts on ripening to release the numerous seeds. The seeds are coated with a sticky resinous substance. The genus is named after their sticky seeds, from the Greek meaning "pitch-seed".

Tarata (P. eugenioides) and Kohuhu (P. tenuifolium) – both from New Zealand – and the Japanese cheesewood (P. tobira) from southern Japan are widely cultivated as ornamental plants in subtropical regions; pittosporums can also be grown indoors as bonsai. The petroleum nut (P. resiniferum) yields petroleum nut oil, which is sometimes proposed as biofuel; due to its excessive n-heptane content and consequent low octane rating, it is better suited as a source of n-heptane, which is otherwise produced from crude oil.

Many pest on ornamental pittosporums (in particular the New Zealand species); the sac fungus Nectriella pironii often infects Japanese cheesewood.

Selected species

Foliage of the cultivar 'Tom Thumb'
Pittosporum dasycaulon


  1. ^ The first pronunciation is that expected for Anglo-Latin; the second is common in nurseries. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). awa"ʻ"Hō (PDF). Common Forest Trees of Hawaii (Native and Introduced). United States Forest Service. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 

External links

  • A.J. Townsend (1999). recovery plan, 1999-2009"Pittosporum patulum" (PDF). Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
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