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.

Olea europaea L.

Common Olive

Modern name

Olea europaea L.

An evergreen tree of rugged, much-branched habit and slow growth, generally 15 to 30 ft high, with grey-green foliage. Leaves opposite, narrowly obovate or oval, 112 to 3 in. long, 13 to 34 in. wide, glaucous or silvery beneath, leathery. Flowers white, 15 in. diameter, in axillary racemes 1 to 2 in. long, the corolla with four ovate lobes; stamens two. Fruit an oval, oily drupe, 34 in. long, containing a bony seed.

Probably with an origin in S.W. Asia and largely cultivated all over the Mediterranean region. In many parts of Italy, as in the environs of Florence, its grey tints give the prevailing tone to the landscape. In Britain it can only be cultivated out-of-doors in the mildest parts. It has borne fruit in several places in the south-west. At Kew it has lived for a good many years on a south wall, but in such a place is only worth growing for its interest and associations. In the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, there is an example in the open ground, on three stems and about 20 ft high. It was bearing a few almost ripe fruits in January 1975.



Other species in the genus

[No species article available]