Styrax

Styrax is mainly indigenous in Asia, though some species are found in America, and one in Mediterranean regions. It comprises about 130 species of shrubs and small trees, of which S. officinalis, amongst others, has been known for thousands of years because of the beautifully fragrant resin, ‘storax’. A number of species are fairly winter-hardy. This is a deciduous or evergreen, woody-stemmed shrub with spreading, short-stemmed, hairy leaves and graceful, terminal clusters of white, snowdrop-like flowers, followed by drupes. S. japonica is a deciduous, broad shrub up to 5 m tall (trees are up to 10 m tall), which flowers profusely. It has elliptical, pointed leaves, 3-8 cm long, numerous, slightly fragrant clusters of white flowers on the horizontal shoots, and long-stemmed, green fruits.

S. obassia, fragrant snowbell, is a deciduous, beautifully formed shrub, 5(-10)m tall, which flowers profusely. It has dark green, oval to round leaves, 10-20 cm long, with greyish-green, hairy undersides, and pendent clusters of large numbers of fragrant white flowers up to 2 cm across. Grow as a specimen shrub or in groups, in a sheltered, sunny or slightly shady spot, in moist soil, rich in humus, poor in line and with no clay; prune only if necessary, in spring. Propagate from seed (place seed in moist sand for the winter; germinate in spring) and by layering (roots only after two years).

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