(Uniquement en anglais)
The Pittosporum tobira Ait., also known as the Australian laurel or Japanese cheesewood, is an evergreen shrub with highly perfumed white flowers, belonging to the family Pittosporaceae. The genus (Pittosporum) is linked to two Greek terms: pissa or pitta meaning ‘resin’ and spora meaning seed, referring to the sticky seeds of this variety. The specific epithet (tobira) represents a Japanese word which seems to describe a type of wood suitable for building doors and windows due to its resistance and flexibility – indeed characteristics of Pittosporum wood. The species originates from East Asia and became widespread in Italy in the first half of the 1800s, in particular because of its resistance to adverse conditions and its ability to withstand regular, severe pruning. It is likely that princess Elisa introduced the shrub to the Lucca area directly from Malmaison, where Napoleon’s first wife Josephine had created an impressive collection of rare plants.