Olive (Olea europaea)
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.
In this article
Plant profileCommon name: Common olive, Common olive, Common olive
Scientific name: Olea europaea
Plant type: Trees
Height: 8m - 15m
Spread: 3m - 8m
Foliage color: Gray, Green
Flower color: White
Fruit color: Black, Green
Sunlight: Full Sun
Soil: Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Well drained
Garden type: Architectural, Coastal, Mediterranean Garden, Rock & Gravel Garden
Planting type: Flower borders and bedding, Low Maintenance
Other characteristics: Edible fruit
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.
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.
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.
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. Olives are top plants and make a statement in gardens in the Mediterranean style, combinining perfectly with plants from the same region like lavenders, rosemary and laurel.
Both the aged-looking trunk and the bluish canopy of olive trees 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.