Evergreen shrub growing to 6½ ft (2 m). Has green leaves, scented double flowers, and orange-red fruit.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to southeastern provinces of China, gardenia prefers humid, tropical climates. The fruit is gathered when it turns reddish-yellow.
Gardenia fruit contains iridoid glycosides. The flowers are the source of the essential oil.
History & Folklore
Gardenia has been used in Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years. It provides an important essential oil used to flavor teas. The oil is also used to make perfumes. Gardenia perfumes often blend gardenia, jasmine, and tuberose.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
In the Chinese herbal tradition, gardenia is a “bitter, cold” herb used mostly to relieve symptoms associated with heat. These include fever, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, cystitis, painful urination, and jaundice. The fruit staunches bleeding and is taken for nosebleeds, and urinary and rectal bleeding. The essential oil is an antiseptic and has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac.
The fruit of the northern Indian G. campanulata is cathartic and used to expel worms. G. gummifera, from eastern India, is antiseptic and digestive. The Pacific region G. taitensis relieves headaches. The African G. thunbergia is used to relieve constipation.
Avoid in diarrhea. Do not take if taking prescribed medication for high blood pressure.