The Q&A Archives: Unknown Tree

Question: We recently purchased a tree from a wholesaler and we aren't sure what it is. They had a marker in the soil which read "Ervotamia", but after an exhaustive search on the Internet I can find nothing that resembles that name or looks like the tree we purchased. The tree is approximately 5' tall with bright green leaves and small white blossoms that resemble gardenia, but have no fragrance. Do you have any idea what this tree might be?

I'm afraid to plant it until I find out what it is & how tall it might get. It's a lovely addition, however.

Thank you.

Answer: Ervatamia is Tabernaemontana, commonly known as Red Bay, Crape Jasmine, Crape Gardenia, Pinwheel Flower, East Indian Rosebay, or Flowers-of-Love, depending upon who you talk to. In general terms, it's a much-branched shrub growing to about 8' tall and wide. It can be trained into a tree by removing all the side branches, in which case it can grow to about 20' in height. Provide full sun, protect from frost, and water regularly as you would any landscape plant.

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