Sometimes it's fun to discover more about flowers and plants than simply the facts. For example, there are various meanings ascribed to different kinds of jasmine trees. Jasmine in general represents wealth and grace. Indian jasmine signifies attachment, while Spanish jasmine represents sensuality. Yellow jasmine means modesty and elegance, while white jasmine suggests amiability. Each tree has unique horticultural features, of course.
The jasmine tree (Millingtonia hortensis) has a number of other common names, including cork tree and nim (in Hindi), because this beautiful tree originates in Asia, and flourishes wild and through cultivation, in India. Its botanical name honors Thomas Millington, an 18th century English botanist. The tree is mainly ornamental in character, tall and graceful, reaching heights of around 80 feet, but not especially hardy, with fairly sparse, brittle branches and bark. However, regular pruning can keep the tree small if desired. The tree's clusters of delicate, bell-shaped, silver-white flowers bloom in the spring, and again around November and December. They bloom at night and shed their flowers by morning. In India, the flowers are used in religious rituals. New pointed, oval leaves come through in the spring. The jasmine tree is a member of the Bignoniaceae family.
Northern India Native
The crape jasmine (Tabernaemontana divaricata) is a small evergreen tree with dark-green opposite leaves; it is native to northern India. It has several common names including crape gardenia (for its fragrance), East Indian rosebay and pinwheel flower, for its pinwheel-like arrangement of white petals. This fast-growing tree reaches a height of between 8 and 15 feet, preferring full sun to partial shade, and flourishing in a variety of soil conditions. Cultivars include butterfly gardenia or fleur d'amour (Flore pleno), exhibiting clusters of lacy double white flowers, and Grandifolia, also with double flowers.
The orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata) has fragrant orange flowers that bloom year-round, at intervals. This small evergreen tree is also called china box because it tolerates shearin, and it can be cultivated as a hedge. It has glossy green leaves and bright orange to red fruit. It is known for its medicinal uses. The leaves produce a decongestant and treatments for bleeding, dysentery and joint pain. This tree flourishes in a container pot as well as in the ground, growing in India and China, southeast Asia and Australia.
The bonsai jasmine tree, or winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), is as hardy as it is attractive. It originates in China, where it weathers extremes of hot and cold throughout the year. The bright yellow blooms usually flower during the winter months, making it unusual among bonsai trees, and an ideal outdoor or indoor ornamental plant.
In India, legend has it that the supreme god, Lord Krishna, brought the jasmine tree to earth from heaven. His wives, Satyabhama and Rukmini, quarreled over it. Lord Krishna resolved this by planting the tree in Satyabhama's courtyard but enabling its flowers to fall in Rukmini's courtyard.