Olea europaea (Common olive)

Olea europaea (Common olive) is a perennial tree, fruitful and ornamental, native to the Mediterranean region. From common olive we obtain olives and the precious oil, which man learned to extract in the Neolithic Period, about 10.000 BC, making the olive tree venerated by many people. Olive trees can reach 2500 years old and are a symbol of persistence and longevity.

Common name: Common olive, Common olive, Common olive
Scientific name: Olea europaea
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The height of the olive trees is small when compared to other tree, rarely exceeding 10 meters in height, with a broad, rounded crown and a thick, irregular, gray and quite twisted trunk. The roots are strong and can reach 6 meters deep.


The leaves of Olea europaea are elliptic to lanceolate, opposing, greenish-gray in the upper face and silvery in the lower face, which gives the whole of the foliage a bluish appearance.

Olea europaea (Common olive) - leaves and olives
Olea europaea (Common olive) – leaves and olives


The inflorescences appear in the spring with numerous flowers of creamy white color, with a soft perfume. The flowers are hermaphrodite and can self-pollinate in most varieties. Pollination is done by wind.


The olives grow in autumn, an ellipsoid fruit, with pulpy flesh, succulent and containing a hard seed. The main difference between green or black olives is the harvest time, with green being harvested immature and black when they are already ripe. This difference generates quite distinct flavors. There are hundreds of varieties of olive trees, with different characteristics like bigger or smaller fruits or different flavors.

Olea europaea (Common olive) - black mature olives
Olea europaea (Common olive) – black mature olives

In the garden

In gardening, the olive trees have gained more and more popularity. They are extremely resistant, very versatile, rustic and low maintenance. They can be used alone, as a highlight, or in the composition of forests. Both the aged-looking trunk and the bluish canopy create a lot of interest. The fruiting is another attraction of this tree for the garden. Olive trees also lend themselves to topiary and potting. Today, due to their great resistance to transplantation, many centuries-old olive trees from ancient plantations are being used as ornamental gardens, usually in a prominent position, evidencing the sculptural forms of their trunks shaped by time.

How to plant

Olive trees growing is quite slow, which makes planting larger specimens recommended when one wishes to obtain a beautiful effect in the garden quickly. Due to this fact, the older and older individuals reach high prices in the market. Olive trees are also widely used in bonsai art. Curiosity: Olive trees are the most cultivated fruit trees in the world.

Olive trees should be planted under full sun, in well drained, poor or fertile soils, and should be irrigated in the first year when establishing. The olive tree is very rough and resistant to long periods of drought. However, water if the dry period occurs during flowering, thus avoiding a sudden drop in the production of olives.

It can be planted in coastal areas, as it tolerates strong winds and salinity. The weak point of the olive tree is the excess moisture. Soils susceptible to flooding cause the rapid decline of the tree, which is fragile and sensitive to fungal diseases.

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