a tea olive tree

The Tea Olive Tree

When my mom moved to the south 30 years ago she was told that every southern home should have a tea olive tree by their back door. When my teacher friend and I were enjoying our friluftsliv (open-air living), we decided to take a walk through the city park and the tea olives were in bloom. They smelled so delicious, a nice mix of apricots and jasmine, that we stuck a small branch in our pockets to enjoy for the day.

I learned some interesting things about the tea olive tree. If placed in a sunny area it can grow quite tall. The flowers are small and rather insignificant, the leaves are a broad base evergreen. It is sometimes called the false holly, the difference being in the leaf structure. Tea olives have an opposite leaf pattern while a holly has an alternate leaf pattern. This may seem unimportant but if you purchase a lesser-known holly by mistake, it won’t produce a fragrance no matter where you plant it.

April 25th is sense of smell day, have a look at the calendar here.

The scent of the tea olive tree is a true sign that autumn is in the air.

We have another tree in the south, the Bradford pear tree. This tree is quite a beauty when it reveals flowers in the spring and shows its beauty again with its fall foliage. However, it reveals something else as well; a stench similar to dead fish. Because a Bradford grows fast, the tree has a very weak structure, usually only lasting about 20 years. It can be invasive, sucking the nutrients out of other trees and eventually choking them out.

So, which tree are you more like?

Do you stand in all of your glory but when you open your mouth, your words stink of dead fish, or do you quietly stand with your seemingly insignificant flowers but your aroma is that of apricots and jasmine? Do you have a weak structure or are you an evergreen? Are friends wanting to take a small piece of you with them or are you choking them out?

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

What fragrances are important to God?

The fragrance of our:

  • Prayers
  • Attitude
  • Witness
  • Love
  • Hearts
  • Thoughts

This week as you notice a familiar aroma; your coffee brewing in the morning, your new shampoo, freshly sharpened pencils, your favorite candle burning in the window, or some just-baked chocolate chip cookies, ask yourself if your aroma is pleasing to God.

Dear God,

Thank you so much for this beautiful day. Thank you for the sweet reminder of how precious I am to you. Help me to be a pleasant fragrance to you. Please show me anywhere in my life that I stink to you. Today as I smell the familiar smells in my life let me be reminded of the sweet aroma of the knowledge of you. Amen

my signature, xoxo Shannon at Joy and Sunshine collective
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I enjoy doing God's work from the church basement where I have been a preschool teacher for the last 18 years. My husband and I have two newly grown and flown children. Our son just graduated college and is working his dream job and my daughter just got married and is in her first year teaching preschool at our church. It is a joy to see her everyday at work.


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