Pittosporaceae (pittosporum family) Pittosporum

Pittosporum tobira tobira

China, Japan
Pittosporum tobira. John Rawlings, ca. 2005

A small tree with glossy, leathery leaves about 3 inches long, small cream-colored flowers, and fruit with sticky orange seeds. The leathery leaves, often curled down at the edges, distinguish it from the pittosporums of the Southern Hemisphere.

A fine specimen is in the Old Union Courtyard, north side near Building 590. The variegated variety, which grows to about 6 feet, can be seen on the south side of the Post Office. Tobiras that are used as clipped hedges, as around the men’s room that is visible from the east side of Memorial Church, look neat but the flowers are sacrificed.

Name derivation: Pittosporum – Greek pitta (pitch) and spora (seed), referring to the sticky seed coating; tobira – the native name.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.