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 of age and are a symbol of persistence and longevity.
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Plant profileCommon name: Common olive, Olive tree
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
Olea europaea climate
Olive tree is native to the entire Mediterranean region and tolerates a wide range of climates. It grows well in temperate or tropical climates. Frosts, however, impair fruiting.
Olive trees are relatively small trees and rarely exceed 10 meters in height.
The crown is broad and rounded, the trunk thick, irregular, gray and quite twisted with age.
The roots are strong and can reach 6 meters in depth.
Olea europaea is a relatively slow growing tree. The specimens with twisted trunks, full of character currently popular in gardens, are tens or hundreds of years old.
For those who want this type of olive tree in their garden, you should buy a “ready-made” specimen.
In other words, you should not think that you will get that appearance in your living span by germinating seeds, making cuttings or buying a small olive tree.
Olea europaea leaves are dark green on top and silvery on the underside.
They are very bright, a characteristic that is related to their adaptation to warm climates and places with great sun exposure.
The brightness of the leaves allows it to reflect the sun’s rays and reduce water loss.
These characteristics make the olive tree an excellent tree for gardens on dry positions or exposed to the elements.
The inflorescences appear in the spring, in the leaf axils, and are of the panicle type, with numerous cream-white flowers, with a soft scent.
The flowers are hermaphroditic and can self-pollinate in most varieties. Pollination is done by the wind.
The fruit of this tree is called an olive. They are formed in autumn, an ellipsoid fruit, with fleshy, juicy pulp and containing a hard-coated seed.
The main difference between green and black olives is the time of harvest.
The green olive is harvested immature and the black one when it is already ripe, which generates very distinct flavors.
There are hundreds of varieties of olive trees with different characteristics adapted to different growing places or to produce larger or smaller fruits or with different flavors.
Olive trees in the garden
In gardening, olive trees have gained more and more popularity, with all due credit!
In addition to their natural beauty, they are extremely resistant trees, are very versatile, rustic and have low maintenance.
They can be used isolated, as a focal point, or in the design of gardens of olive trees or mediterranic gardens. 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 silver-green foliage create a lot of interest.
Fruiting is another of the attractions of this tree for the garden, but it ends up being considered an extra.
Olive trees lend themselves to topiaries and use in pots.
Currently, due to their great resistance to transplantation, many centenary olive trees from old plantations are being used as ornamentals in gardens, usually in a prominent position, showing the sculptural forms of their trunks shaped by the time.
The price of olive trees for gardens
Olive tree growth is slow, which makes planting larger specimens advantageous when you want to quickly achieve a beautiful effect in the garden.
The fact that it has a slow growth and skyrocketed demand in recent years make that the largest and oldest specimens reach high prices on the market and can cost hundreds or thousands of euros.
However, you can find younger olive trees, to plant in small gardens or even to grow in pots for a few tens of euros.
Basically, you will be paying time and as a general rule, the older the tree, the more expensive it will be.
How to plant and transplant
The planting of olive trees should be done in a place under full sun, in drainable soils that can be poor or fertile.
Despite being an extremely drought resistant tree, it needs to be watered in the first year. Water until it becomes established and shows signs of vigorous growth.
Likewise, and although olive trees can withstand long periods of drought, it is advisable to water them if the dry period occurs during flowering. This prevents the flower from falling and the consequent reduction in the production of olives.
It can be planted in coastal areas, as it tolerates strong winds and also salinity.
The weak point of the olive tree is the excess of humidity. Soil susceptible to waterlogging causes the tree to rapidly decline, becoming fragile and sensitive to fungal diseases.
Transplanting olive trees is usually successful as it is a tree that regenerates easily from old wood.
However, it is necessary to observe certain precautions. The transplanting of large specimens needs to be done with heavy machinery so that it is removed with a generous root ball all around.
The more roots you can keep, the better the success rate.
The planting hole must be wider than the root ball size for the olive tree to sit comfortably.
Once placed in the final position, you should fill the soil all around and water it abundantly.
The process for planting a small olive tree is identical, only on a smaller scale.