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Mock Orange

Common Name: Mock Orange[1]

Scientific Name: Philadelphus coronarius

Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book entry on April 19, 1807 notes: "planted 9 Philadelphus coronarium, Mock orange in the 4 circular beds of shrubs at the 4 corners of the house."[2]

This strong growing, medium-sized shrub is long in cultivation, since at least the 16th century, and the most commonly known species. Its origins are obscure but believed it is native to Northern Italy, Austria, and Central Romania.

At first, this plant was classified under Syringa. Lady Skipwith called this plant a "Syringa or mock orange," while William Bartram called it the former.[3] "Mock Orange" comes from the fact that the fragrant flowers are reminiscent of orange blossoms. The scientific name,Philadelphus, first used in the 1600s, is said to commemorate the Egyptian king, Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 BC), who was supposedly a garden lover.[4]

It is a deciduous, early summer-flowering shrub with arching branches bear racemes of richly scented cup-shaped, pure white flowers in profusion with finely toothed, bright green foliage.


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 335.
  3. Joan Parry Dutton, Plants of Colonial Williamsburg (Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg, 1979), 69-70.
  4. Ibid, 70.

Further Sources


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