Pittosporum crassifolium (Karo) - An upright evergreen shrub or small tree that typically is seen to 8 to 12 feet but is known to reach as tall as 25 feet by 6 to 10+ feet wide with dark stems holding narrow oblanceolate 2 to 3 inch long grey-green leaves that are lighter below and covered with greyish hairs. The spring-blooming maroon flowers are not outstandingly showy but are interesting and fragrant.
This plant grows well in full sun with infrequent to occasional or regular irrigation, but looks best in inland gardens in part sun with regular watering. It is tolerant of fairly dry conditions and near seaside conditions. A great upright hedging plant along the coast.
Pittosporum crassifolium is found naturally growing around forest margins and along streams in coastal localities of the Kermadec Islands and northern areas of the North Island of New Zealand. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'pitta' meaning "pitch" and 'spora' meaning "seed" in reference to the sticky seeds of many members of the genus and the specific epithet is from the Latin words 'crass' meaning "thick" and 'folia' meaning "leaves" in reference to the leaves of this species, which are thicker than most Pittosporum.
This species was first described in 1833 by the Kew trained English botanist Richard Cunningham and was illustrated in Curtis Botanical Magazine in 1872, but was introduced into California prior to 1871 by Stephen Nolan at his Belle View Nursery in Oakland, California and planted into the Strybing Arboretum in 1899. We have grown the great plant since 1981 and also grow the compact form called Pittosporum crassifolium 'Compacta'.
Information about Pittosporum crassifolium displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.