Description from Flora of China
Shrubs to small trees, evergreen. Leaves opposite, simple, petiolate; leaf blade entire or serrate, usually glandular dotted. Inflorescences cymose, fascicled in leaf axils or in very short and axillary or terminal panicles; bracts 2, united at base, usually ciliate. Flowers bisexual, usually becoming unisexual and plants dioecious or androdioecious. Calyx campanulate, 4-lobed. Corolla usually white or yellowish, campanulate, cylindric, or urceolate, lobed, parted, or divided almost to base; lobes 4, imbricate in bud. Stamens 2(-4), mostly attached to upper half of corolla tube; connective usually minutely mucronate, elongated, or projecting. Ovules 2 in each locule, pendulous. Stigma capitate or 2-cleft. Abortive pistil subulate or conical. Fruit a drupe; endocarp hard or bony; endosperm fleshy; radicle erect.
About 30 species: SE Asia and America; 23 species in China.
Two species have been described from Taiwan of which no material has been seen in the preparation of this account: Osmanthus acutus Masamune & K. Mori (O. heterophyllus var.
acutus (Masamune & K. Mori) T. S. Liu & J. C. Liao) and O. kaoi (T. S. Liu & J. C. Liao) S. Y. Lu (O. lanceolatus var. kaoi T. S. Liu & J. C. Liao). Osmanthus dinggyensis P. Y. Bai,
described from Xizang, is Ilex hookeri King.
The flowers are fragrant in all species; Osmanthus fragrans is a well-known spice plant.