Native to southern Europe and the Middle East, this deciduous flowering shrub grows on dry rocky slopes, wood, margins and thickets and is a member of a small family, Styracaceae. The shrub grows up to 16′ tall and has felted young shoots, leaves, and young flower stalks. The stems are reddish and carry widely spaced eliptical to oval or round leaves that are 2-4″ long and have a small light green axillary bud. Loose cluster of 3-8 axillary, bell-shaped, white flowers appear from spring to early summer. The flowers are fragrant, 3/4″ long, and have 5-7 petals surrounding numerous yellow anthers. The plants have been known from ancient times for the fragrant exude of wounded stems, stacte, that was used for incense, perfume, and medicine. The genus name, Styrax, was the classical Greek name derived from a Semitic name for these resin producing plants. The specific epithet, officinalis, is the Latin word meaning sold in shops and is used to indicate that the plant has medicinal properties.
Type: Deciduous flowering shrub
Outstanding Feature: Flowers, resin
Growth Rate: Moderate
Bloom: White, bell-shaped fragrant flowers from spring to early summer
Size: 6-16′ H x 4-12′ W
Light: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Organically rich, medium moist, well-drained, acidic
Hardiness: Zones 9-10
Care: Prune in winter to shape.
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Seed or cuttings
Photo Credits: Wikipedia