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The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus after Dr Alexander Garden (1730-1791), Scottish-born American naturalist.
They are evergreen shrubs and small trees growing to 1–15 m tall. The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three or four, 5–50 cm long and 3–25 cm broad, dark green and glossy with a leathery texture. The flowers are solitary or in small clusters, white or pale yellow. Flowering is from about mid-spring to mid-summer and many species are strongly scented.
Cultivation and uses
Gardenia plants are prized for the strong sweet scent of their flowers, which can be very large in some species.
Gardenias have a reputation for being difficult to grow. Because they originated in warm humid tropical areas, they demand high humidity.