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Gardenia taitensis


Gardenia taitensis DC.

Family Name: Rubiaceae
Common Name: Tahiti Gardenia, Star of Tahiti


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Southwest Pacific.
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form An evergreen shrub or a small tree that can grow up to 6 m tall. 
Foliage Leaves are oppositely arranged along the stem, congested near the branch tips; leaf blade is obovate to broadly elliptic, measuring 3.5 - 24 cm long and 2.5 - 6 cm wide, glabrous on both surfaces, shiny on the above. Apex is round or obtuse to broadly acuminate, base is acute to cuneate and decurrent. Stipules are 3 - 12  mm long, broadly triangular or obtuse and united at the bases, while on the young stems they appear cup-like. 
Flowers Solitary flowers. Large white, pinwheel flowers, fragrant, about 7.5 cm in diameter (sometimes up to 10 cm). 
Fruit Fruits are broadly ellipsoidal to subglobose, measuring 35 - 50 mm long and 30 - 40 mm wide, 4 - 5 ribbed, has persistent calyx lobes and cup at the apex. When ripens, fruit splits irregularly to reveal numerous seeds in bright orange pulp.
Others - Plant Morphology Plant identification for this record was provided by Low Yee Wen of SING herbarium.
Official flower of Tahiti. 
Habitat Grows in woodlands and thickets, near coasts and sometimes on limestones. 
Cultivation Avoid misting the plant as it can result in fungal leaf spot. Plant requires moderate watering, make sure soil doesn't completely dry out. Fertilize gardenias monthly with balanced fertilizer. Remove any disease, dead or spent flowers. Plant can be pruned to maintain plant's shape. 
Etymology The genus Gardenia is named after Dr. Alexander Garden, an Anglo-American botanist, correspondent with Linnaeus.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: Infusion of bark and flower in water or coconut oil for antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and other medicinal uses.
Cultural / Religious: Polynesian people used the flowers as leis. In some Pacific island traditions, flower worn on left ear means the person is taken while on the right ear means available.
Others: The wood can be carved into netting needles and bows. 

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Flowers)
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Hedge / Screening, Container Planting

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green
Young Flush Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Modification Stipule
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate, Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Obtuse, Rounded
Foliar Base Acute, Cuneate

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Tubular, Stellate / Star-shaped
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown, Yellow / Golden
Seed Description Brownish yellow, irregular discoid. About 4 mm in diameter and 0.5 mm thick.  

Image Repository



Master ID 31573
Species ID 5972
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 22 February 2022.