March 23
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Plant Genus of the family Oleaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Chionanthus This genus in the Oleaceae family consists of more than 100 species of deciduous trees and shrubs native to eastern Asia, Japan and the eastern states of the USA. Some of the tropical trees within the genus may be evergreen. The leaves are toothed or smooth and are arranged opposite each other on the branches. The white 4-petalled flowers grow in terminal panicles, and are followed in autumn by a purple-blue fruit with a single seed. The bark is used medicinally. CULTIVATION: Some species tolerate alkaline soil while others prefer neutral or acid soil and a position in full sun. The wood needs to be ripened by the sun for a good flower set. Propagate by sowing seed as soon as it is ripe in autumn, ensuring it is protected from winter frosts. Germination is slow, taking up to 18 months.
Fontanesia This is a genus of 1 or 2 deciduous shrubs or sometimes small trees, native to China, with simple opposite leaves, closely related to the ashes (Fraxinus species). Small flowers are borne in terminal or axillary panicles or racemes, having a corolla which is deeply lobed, united only at the base. The thin fruit is flat and winged. CULTIVATION: Fontanesia thrive in any soil type. Propagation is from seed, by layering and from softwood cuttings struck under glass.
Forsythia This small genus of about 7 species of deciduous shrubs in the Oleaceae family occurs mainly in eastern Asia with a species in southeastern Europe. The simple, opposite leaves color in autumn. Yellow flowers appear before, or with, the new leaves in spring. Those species that are semi-pendulous can be trained over a support as wall plants. All are valuable for brightly colored early spring flowers. CULTIVATION: Easy to cultivate and reliably frost hardy, forsythias prefer a well-drained fertile soil and adequate water in summer, and are at their best in an open sunny position. Flowers are borne on the overwintered year-old shoots, which make good cut flowers; remove older shoots when flowering has finished to make room for new shoots that arise from the base. Propagate by soft-tip cuttings taken in summer, or hardwood cuttings taken in winter. Some species, like Forsythia suspensa, are self-layering and can be increased in this manner in late winter.
Fraxinus This genus within the olive family consists of 65 species of mostly deciduous trees with a few evergreens. They tolerate coastal salt air, exposed positions, urban pollution, alkaline soil and heavy clay. The habitat is broad and includes temperate Europe, Asia and North America, with a few species found in the tropics. Leaves are opposite and pinnate, up to 20 in (50 cm) long. The small, usually insignificant flowers are unisexual or bisexual in terminal or axillary racemes, generally appearing before the leaves in spring, and followed by single-seeded winged fruit. The timber is elastic and has been used for vehicle building in the past, for sports goods and tool handles. The bark has been used medicinally to reduce fevers and the foliage is used as cattle fodder in Scandinavia. Fraxinus chinensis is the source of ?Chinese insect white wax?, which is used for Chinese candles, for coating pills, for paper and for polishing soapstone and jade. F. ornus has been cultivated in southern Italy for the manna syrup or sugar it exudes when attacked by insects and in Canada and the USA it is valued as an important urban timber. CULTIVATION: Most species grow well in moist loam and make good specimen trees in large gardens but as they have an extensive fibrous root system and are greedy feeders they need space. Some species will grow in drier soils and in acid or neutral soil, but most prefer alkaline soil. Propagate by sowing seed after stratifying. Cultivars can be grafted in spring or budded to seedling stock of the same species in summer.
Ligustrum This genus of about 50 species of both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs is part of the olive family. Most species are found in the Himalayas and eastern Asia, with one in Europe and North Africa. All have simple opposite leaves with smooth edges and terminal inflorescences of scented white flowers. They are extensively grown in cold climates as hardy hedging plants but are fast growing and require frequent clipping. In warmer climates seed is produced in large quantities and is popular with birds, which has resulted in several species invading native vegetation and becoming weeds. Ligustrum japonicum and L. ovalifolium are weeds in the USA and New Zealand; L. sinense has become a pest in eastern Australia. The varieties with colored foliage can be grown with less risk but are apt to revert. CULTIVATION: Privets are not particular about soil or exposure to sun, and are greedy feeders, taking nourishment from plants around them. Seeds can be sown as soon as ripe, while the colored forms are best propagated from firm tip cuttings taken in late spring or summer.
Syringa This is a genus of 23 species of vigorous, deciduous, flowering shrubs in the olive family, most of them native to northeast Asia, with 2 species only in Europe. Of the European species one, Syringa vulgaris, the common lilac, is known to have been grown in the gardens of western Europe since the sixteenth century and is today represented by over 1,500 named cultivars with flowers ranging in color from pure white to deep purple. The flowers may be single or double, borne in conspicuous clusters, and almost all are highly fragrant. Probably no other flowering shrub has been so extensively hybridized, and lilacs are among the most popular of all cool-climate shrubs. CULTIVATION: Their main requirements are a well-drained soil and a position in sun or light shade; they thrive in a sandy gravelly soil, preferably one that is slightly alkaline, but do not do well in heavy clay nor in deep shade. Propagate from seed, but the results may be variable; layering is a common practice, or they can be grown from cuttings of the current year?s growth.

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