A modern reference to temperate woody plants, including updated content from this site and much new material, can be found at Trees and Shrubs Online.




Common names


A relatively limited number of small or medium-sized evergreen trees from tropical or warm temperate regions of the Old World. The leaves are simple and opposite. The flowers are white, borne in axillary, decussate, and opposite-flowered or paniculate inflorescences. The calyx and corolla are four-lobed, the lobes of the corolla valvate and rolled inwards in the bud stage. Stamens two. Fruit an ovoid or spheroid drupe, usually dark blue or black when ripe.

Of the members of the genus only O. europaea is hardy in Britain, and then only in the most favourable situations. The genus is closely allied to Osmanthus and Phillyrea, differing only in minor characters.

Notelaea ligustrina Vent. of Tasmania and southern Victoria, a privet-like shrub occasionally grown in Britain, is allied to Olea. It has little horticultural value. For the species once known as Olea excelsa, see Picconia.

Species articles