fresh flower

rice flower

The Greeks named this a smelly shrub.

by Steven W. Brown, AIFD


Ozothamnus diosmifolium
Rice Flower
Photo courtesy of California
Cut Flower Commission


1 A POPULAR FILLER. Pronounced “oz-o-THAM-nus di-os-mi-FO-lee-um,” this flower has become popular on world markets as a filler material for many types of arrangements. The stems of this shrub are mostly woody and have approximately one-half-inch-long linear fuzzy leaves. It usually grows to about 2 feet to 3 feet high. The tiny white or pink flowers appear in clusters at the ends of the branches.

2 AROMATIC FOLIAGE. The blossoms of rice flowers do not have fragrance, but when the leaves are crushed, they have a strong aroma. The botanical name refers to this; the Greek word “ozo” means “to smell,” and “thamnos” means “shrub.” Avoid long periods of exposure to rice flowers, or itchy skin and hay-feverlike reactions such as runny nose and itchy eyes and throat might occur.

3 FAMILY RELATIONS. Rice flower is a member of the Asteraceae, or Compositae, (aster or daisy) family. Common relatives include chrysanthemums, marigolds, sunflowers, Zinnias and lettuce.

4 AUSSIE BORN. Ozothamnus is a native of Australia and New Zealand. It is commercially produced in southern Queensland, Australia. Much of the product grown there is exported to Asian markets, where it is extremely popular for its flowers and fragrance. Ozothamnus is available from August through December from Australia and from August through May from California.

5 SHOPPER ALERT. Purchase rice flowers when about half of the small buds or “grains” look full and puffy but not open. Avoid bunches that show too many open buds. Mature blossoms will fall apart, and immature blossoms will wilt. Avoid bunches that show signs of leaf drop.

6 HANDLING TECHNIQUES. Unpack the product as soon as it arrives in the shop. Remove all packing materials and any foliage on the stems that would fall below the water line. Dip or place the stems into a hydrating solution following package directions, then put them into a properly prepared fresh flower-food solution.

7 CONDITION AND HARDEN. After processing rice flowers, allow the stems to take up water for at least two hours. Misting the flowers while they are conditioning is beneficial. Harden these stems in a floral refrigerator at 34 F to 38 F for at least two hours before designing with or selling them.

8 VASE LIFE. Rice flowers will last from seven to 14 days in fresh arrangements. They need to be kept away from drafts and direct sunlight, electronic appliances and other sources of heat. Misting, cooling at night and changing the vase water at least every other day will help these blossoms to last well.

9 FOREVER AND EVER. Ozothamnus was formerly named Helichrysum—“the everlastings.” These flowers are suitable for drying and will last well in permanent designs.

10 OTHER USES. Oil derived from Ozothamnus diosmifolium can be used as a room deodorizer and as a bactericide.


Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San Francisco with 26 years of consulting and educational experience in the floral industry.


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