White gardenia


White gardenia, or starry gardenia, is native to South Africa and Swaziland. It reaches a height of 15 feet, with one or more trunks 7 or more inches in diameter. The leaves measure up to 5.5 inches long and are grouped toward the ends of the branches. Flowers have a tube up to 5 inches long and a circle of petals up to 3 inches in diameter. They are fragrant and attract moths. Fruits are woody capsules up to 4 inches long that remain on the tree until a large animal (elephants, antilopes and buffaloes in its native distribution) eats them and disperses the seeds. It flowers during spring and summer, the author has not observed fruits. The generic name honors the Scottish naturalist Alexander Garden (1730-1791). The species name honors the Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828).

The photographed tree is at the southeast corner of the Celis Building and is the only member of the species in the campus. It was planted by Severo Vélez, probably in the 1940s.

Fruit: this link.

Gardenia thunbergia (Rubiaceae)