Gardenia jasminoides (PROSEA)

From PlantUse English
Jump to: navigation, search
Logo PROSEA.png
Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Gardenia jasminoides Ellis

Protologue: Philos. Trans. 51(2): 935, t. 23 (1761).
Family: Rubiaceae
Chromosome number: 2n= 22


  • Gardenia florida L. (1762),
  • Gardenia grandiflora Lour. (1790),
  • Gardenia augusta (L.) Merr. (1917).

Vernacular names

  • Cape jasmine, garden Gardenia (En)
  • Indonesia: kaca piring (Sundanese), ceplok piring (Javanese), jempiring (Bali)
  • Malaysia: bunga cina, bunga susu, sangklapa
  • Philippines: rosal (Tagalog)
  • Laos: inthavaa, ph'ud
  • Thailand: khet-thawaa (northern), phut cheen (central), phut-tharaksaa (Ratchaburi)
  • Vietnam: dành dành.

Origin and geographic distribution

Cape jasmine is indigenous in southern China, Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, and Taiwan, possibly also locally in Sri Lanka. It is widely cultivated in the tropics and subtropics, and sometimes naturalized. In South-East Asia it is commonly planted in gardens.


The pulp of the fruit is used in China and Japan for colouring food yellow. Some extracts are commercially available in Japan; they are used to colour boiled beans, fish eggs, hot cakes, liquor, sweets, ices, noodles, candies and imitation crab. Occasionally textiles are also dyed yellow or scarlet, although the colour is rather impermanent. Cape jasmine is often planted as an ornamental, and sometimes for hedges. The fragrant flowers are used in perfumery, and in China they are used for flavouring tea. Several parts of the plant are used medicinally. The roots are used against headache, dyspepsia, nervous disorders, and fever; the leaves are applied in febrifugous poultices; the fruits are used against jaundice and diseases of kidneys and lungs.


The colouring matter in the fruits contains a glycoside, which is identical with crocetin from saffron (Crocus sativus L.). This carotenoid pigment can be extracted from cape jasmine in larger quantities than from saffron, and without the accompanying flavours; this has led to the development of "gardenia extracts" as a pigment source. Several patents have been developed during the 1980s, many of them in Japan. Many of these patents involve extraction of the fruit followed by treatment with proteases or ß-glucosidase which react with primary amines from proteins or amino-acids. Through altering the conditions a variety of colours including yellow, red, violet, green and blue can be obtained. The oil extracted from the flowers is fragrant, especially because of the presence of styrene acetate. The bark contains ß-sitosterol and nonakosane, the leaves and flowers contain mannit. The seeds contain starch and an oil which is principally composed of palmatic, oleic and linoleic acid.


  • Usually an evergreen, erect shrub up to 2 m tall, but small trees up to 12 m tall have been recorded. Roots strong. Stem up to 10 cm in diameter, usually much branched.
  • Leaves opposite, elliptic to oblong-ovate, 5-10(-15) cm × 2-4.5(-7) cm, cuneate at base, acute or acuminate at apex, shortly petiolate and with stipules connate in pairs.
  • Flowers large, solitary in the axils of the upper leaves, (sub)sessile, very fragrant; calyx 5-8-lobed, persistent corolla white, later yellowish, tube ca. 3 cm long, lobes 5-8, spreading; anthers as many as corolla lobes, linear and sessile; ovary inferior, style long, stigmas capitate.
  • Fruit a leathery, ovoid or ellipsoid berry, 1.5-3(-4.5) cm long, 5-ribbed, crowned with the persistent calyx, yellow to red at maturity, containing many seeds.

Plants cultivated as ornamental in South-East Asia are often double-flowered, with petaloid or poorly developed stamens and sterile ovary. Several cultivars are sold as garden plants, for instance the large-flowered cultivars "August Beauty","Florida" and "Fortuniani", or dwarf plants such as "Radicans". "Mystery" is a tall cultivar, used as shade tree.


Cape jasmine is originally a species from temperate climates. In tropical areas it grows well, at altitudes of 400-1200 m. In the tropical lowland it flowers poorly or not at all. It thrives best on properly drained, but not too dry soils, with pH 6-7, and it prefers sunny places.


The plant is usually propagated by cuttings or by marcotting; the best time is soon after flowering, and younger branches should be used. Cattle manure or compost should be applied regularly. Plants may start flowering as soon as one year after planting. Regular pruning after flowering is advisable.

The most common pest is mealy bug, often followed by sooty mould, covering the leaves with a greyish-black layer. This pest can be controlled by spraying with a kerosine emulsion containing derris or nicotine.


Cape jasmine has potential as a substitute for chemical substances in colouring food. However, more research is needed to prove the harmless character of the dye. It is an interesting ornamental plant, and also has potential as a source of natural perfume.


  • Freund, P.R., Washam, C.J. & Maggion, M., 1988. Natural color for use in foods. Cereal Foods World 33(7): 553-559.
  • Holttum, R.E., 1971. Gardening in the lowlands of Malaya. The Straits Times Press Ltd., Singapore. pp. 106, 136.
  • Sastri, B.N. (Editor), 1956. The wealth of India. Raw materials. Vol. 4. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. p. 110.
  • Smith, A.C., 1974. The genus Gardenia. American Journal of Botany 61: 113-114.


H. Sangat-Roemantyo & Wirdateti