Gardenia Benefits, What is Gardenia

Gardenia benefits, evidence-based information on herbs and botanicals, What is Gardenia , Gardenia health benefits, home remedies and natural cures.

Gardenias are members of the madder, or Rubi-aceae, family. Though not native to either North or South America, they were named for an eighteenth-century American physician and naturalist, Alexander Garden. Gardenias were originally found only in China and Japan, but today there are over 200 different species of gardenia, mostly hybrid, in existence throughout the world. Gardenias are most prevalent in China, Japan, tropical regions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, and South Africa. With proper conditions, gardenias grow into shrub-like bushes or small trees that can reach 5 ft (1.5 m) in height.

Most species of gardenia, however, are very tender plants that require an average temperature of at least 60°F (28.9°C), sunlight with some protection, and just the right amount of humidity. They often survive far better in greenhouses than outside. Gardenias are often rambling plants that form mounds of glossy dark green foliage. The leaves are oval in shape and very shiny. The flowers vary in color from pale yellow with purple markings to creamy white, and they have a classic, heavy, sweet scent reminiscent of green apple. All gardenia blossoms have an almost wax-like appearance and can be either single or double, depending on the species. Most gardenias flower in the winter or early spring, and the blossom is followed by the appearance of a large, yellowish-red, bitter-tasting berry that contains a crystalline compound called acrocetin.

The most commonly listed botanical species of gardenia include:

• Gardenia jasminoides. This species is easily the most common of these rare, fragile plants. It reaches heights of 2 ft (61 cm) and grows into a tall bushy green shrub that produces white, highly fragrant flowers. G. jasminoides is a native of China, and the gardenia most commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine. Its name comes from the fact that it was first introduced to the Western world from Cape Colony in Africa, and the aroma of its large white flowers was said to be very like the scent of jasmine.

• Gardenia jasminoides fortunata. This plant is a hybrid version of G. jasminoides that is somewhat more hardy.

• Gardenia nitida. This gardenia is a slightly taller plant that grows up to 3 ft (93 cm) and also produces white blossoms.

• Gardenia radicans floreplena. This plant is a low spreading dwarf variety from Japan that grows only to heights of 18 in (46 cm), and has double-blossomed flowers.

• Gardenia thunbergia. This gardenia grows to 4 ft (1.2 m) and is often cultivated in American greenhouses. It is found as both tree and shrub, and has white flowers with long tube-like necks.

• Gardenia rothmania. This plant is also a particular favorite of American botanists, but does not survive well in North America outside of a greenhouse. It also exists as both tree and shrub, and has pale yellow flowers with short, tube-like necks and purple markings.

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