Foliage Friday: Variegated Pittosporum

For Christmas, Nate sent me a lovely bouquet of white tulips, holly, and myrtle. Tucked into the bouquet was also a variegated foliage plant, which I’ve seen in bouquets before, but haven’t had a name for. You can see one leaf of it peaking out near the white bow in the photo below. The leaves are sage green with a creamy-white edge.

I tried a few google searches to see if I could figure out what this plant was, but didn’t have much luck.

Well, I was quite surprised when I happened upon the exact plant that I’d been trying to identify while walking home from the library! It’s incredible how often this happens to me with Foliage Friday plants….

I took a picture and was finely able to ID this plant as a varigated form of Pittosporum.

Pittosporum is a genus of flowering shrubs or trees that are native to Asia and Africa. They are evergreen and have fragrant flowers that bloom in the spring/summer. The flowers are said to smell like orange blossoms, so it has been referred to as “mock orange,” but Mock Orange usually refers to a different plant – Philadelphus coronarius – so it’s probably best to stick with the Latin name.

This plant gets its name from its fruit, which has a woody capsule that contains numerous seeds that are coated with a sticky substance. The name pittosporum comes from Greek and means pitch-seed. (Pitch is another word for tree sap, which can be quite sticky.)

Pittosporum like mild climates with lots of sunshine. They are drought tolerant, which makes them good for our area. They are hardy in USDA growing zones 8 to 11.

In addition to using it in bouquets, people sometimes use pittosporums to form a bit of a partial screen or fence, since they are evergreen and grow quickly. Some varieties could be a good alternative to boxwood.

That’s about all there is to say about the pittosporum. I don’t think it’s a particularly interesting or flashy plant. It’s a utilitarian, structural plant that plays a minor supporting role in a bouquet or a landscape. At least now I have a name for it.