Pittosporum tobira - (Thunb.)W.T.Aiton.
Common Name Tobira, Japanese cheesewood, Australian Laurel, Mock Orange, Japanese Pittosporum
Family Pittosporaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards This plant contains saponins[152, 154]. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans, and although they are fairly toxic to people they are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down if the food is thoroughly cooked for a long time. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].
Habitats Rocky hillsides by the coast[184]. Forests, limestone areas, slopes, sandy seashores and roadsides from sea level to 1800 metres[266].
Range E. Asia - southern China, southern Japan, southern Korea.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded, Vase.

Pittosporum tobira Tobira, Japanese cheesewood, Australian Laurel, Mock  Orange, Japanese Pittosporum

Pittosporum tobira Tobira, Japanese cheesewood, Australian Laurel, Mock  Orange, Japanese Pittosporum
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Pittosporum tobira is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses
Hedge;  Hedge;  Shelterbelt.

Very tolerant of pruning and maritime exposure, it can be grown as a wind resistant hedge. It can be used in shelterbelt plantings[200].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Hedge, Massing, Screen, Standard, Seashore, Specimen. Succeeds in most well-drained soils of reasonably good quality in full sun or light shade[200]. Succeeds in dry soils[200]. Very resistant to maritime exposure[184]. Established plants are drought resistant[182]. Hardy to about -10°c[184], succeeding outdoors on the coast of S. England and in London[184]. Plants can be up to 10m tall in their native habitat but rarely exceed 2m in Britain. There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value[200]. The flowers are very fragrant, with a scent reminiscent of orange blossom[219] and can pervade the air for a considerable distance[245]. Very amenable to pruning, plants can be cut right back into old wood if required[200]. The species in this genus are very likely to hybridize with other members of the genus[200]. When growing a species from seed it is important to ensure that the seed either comes from a known wild source, or from isolated specimens in cultivation. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed - sow when ripe in the autumn or in late winter in a warm greenhouse[78, 200]. The seed usually germinates freely. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, move the plants to a cold frame as soon as they are established and plant out late in the following spring[78]. Consider giving them some protection from the cold during their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 7cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Poor to fair percentage[78]. Basal ripewood cuttings late autumn in a cold frame[200].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Pittosporum balansae 10
Pittosporum bicolor 00
Pittosporum crassifoliumKaro, Stiffleaf cheesewood00
Pittosporum eugenioidesTarata11
Pittosporum phillyreoidesWeeping Pittosporum, Narrow-leaf Pittosporum21
Pittosporum ralphiiRalph's desertwillow00
Pittosporum tenuifoliumTawhiwhi20
Pittosporum undulatumCheesewood, Australian cheesewood, Cheesewood, Pittosporum, Orange Berry Pittosporum, Victorian Box00


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Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
david   Sat Nov 4 02:31:35 2000
PS Disclaimer:(obviously!) I cant recommend this as safe or effective, the authors above say the same
david Nicholls   Mon Jul 31 22:59:47 2000
The book "new zealand medicinal plants"(Brooker,cambie,cooper 1991 Reed) breifly notes a study (van der berghe, D.A"Sreening of higher plants for biological activities" Lloydia 41:463-71(CA 1978, 89;204192) in which P.tobira ranks strongly for anti-viral activity.

I've been unable to find any more recent uses or studies following from this, would be very interesting to know. For something so recent the uses may be patented I suppose.

david nicholls   Sun Oct 15 14:44:00 2000
P tobira Murdoch Riley notes the bark is( or was) used in China for toothache rheumatism and dysentery. Ref: p441Maori Healing and Herbal 1994 viking sevenseas ltd
Richard Lia   Thu Feb 26 10:02:29 2004
Would be interested to find out whether P.tobira is safe for planting in my aviary. It would be useful as a nesting site in view of its shrubby growth, but I couldn't find any literature regarding its effects on birds, particularly if they ingest its seeds or flowers, or leaves for that matter. Kindly shed some light on this issue. The birds I intend to house in the aviary are doves and finches.
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Subject : Pittosporum tobira  

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