Around 200 species of evergreen shrubs and trees, largely from the southern hemisphere, excluding South America. Most are tropical or subtropical but a few species endemic to New Zealand occur at higher altitudes and are reasonably hardy. They have alternate or sometimes whorled leaves, usually entire but in a few species pinnately lobed, varying from a few millimetres to many centimetres in length. Flowers solitary or clustered, fairly small, with five petals, white to yellow or often deep red, usually fragrant. The fruit is a leathery or woody capsule, sometimes quite decorative, with seeds embedded in a thick sticky fluid.
The majority of pittosporums grown in Britain are cultivars of P. tenuifolium and are generally too large for a rock garden. However, two dwarf cultivars are suitable and several other New Zealand species can be grown either on the rock garden or in the alpine house. All need a sheltered, sunny position but are tolerant of most soil types. For pot culture, use a well drained humus rich compost. Propagation is by cuttings in late summer or seeds of the species when ripe. (all from New Zealand)