Friends of the Port St Lucie Botanical Gardens

European Olive

​​Symbol of peace

  • Originating in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, most likely Crete. For over 7,000 years, the olive tree has been cultivated, making it the oldest cultivated tree in history. The average life span of an Olive tree is 300-600 years,  although several trees have been known to live over 2,000 years. This particular tree came from the U.S. west coast and was reclaimed from an Olive farm that phased out production.   It is estimated to be 70 – 80 years old and will grow to 20 – 30 feet.  It prefers arid, warm climates, cool but not frigid weather.  Loves full sun, likes sand,  has few pests and fruits for 2-3 weeks.  Olympic wreaths were made from them, representing the ultimate symbol of peace and fairness. Van Gogh loved them, and frequently painted them. We share in his passion, and “paint” the landscape with them.   We hope you enjoy its historic beauty and what it stands for.

    Dedicated in Memory of: Mayor Robert E. Minsky
    (1934 – 2018)

European Olive

​​​​​​​Emerald Blanket Carissa

Olea europaea

  • Common Name: European Olive (other common names: Olea Species, Common Olive, Olive Tree)
  • Scientific Name: Olea europaea
  • Family Name: Oleaceae
  • Origin: Mediterranean, Asia, and Africa
  • Height: typically, 20’ – 30’ but can grow over 40’
  • Width: typically, 15’ – 30’
  • Growth: it is slow to grow at about less than 12" per year.           
  • Zone: 8A - 11
  • Light Needs: Full sun
  • Salt Tolerance:  moderately
  • Soil/PH/Texture grows best in sandy, well-drained areas. The trees thrive in poor soil; excessive nitrogen fertilization can cause too much shoot growth at the expense of fruit production. Neutral – alkaline (pH 6.6 – 8.5).
  • Soil Moisture: Too much water from irrigation or rain will make trees susceptible to root-rot disease and damage production by causing flowers to drop before they form fruits.
  • Drought Tolerance: moderate tolerance once established
  • Pests/Diseases: they are relatively pest- and disease-free trees, although scale can be a problem, as with many other landscape trees in Florida. Additionally, leaves can be damaged by caterpillars and grasshoppers.
  • Growing Conditions: once established they require minimal care. Pruning can be tricky. Olive trees never bear fruit in the same place on a stem, so new growth each year is essential for flower production and fruiting.
  • Characteristics: It has beautiful silvery foliage that varies in color but is generally considered to be grayish-green. White flowers appear in clusters in April – May in Florida. The fruits start out as green and will generally become a blackish-purple color when fully ripe; though some varieties will remain green and others turn a copper-brown color. Olives are usually too bitter for eating right off the tree; depending on the variety, some are ideal for preserving and eating later, while others are better suited to be pressed for oil.
  • Propagation: by woody stem cuttings, flowers are sterile, so plant does not set seed.
  • Wildlife: attracts bees, birds and butterflies.
  • Facts: These trees and their fruits have a rich history—from appearing in ancient mythology to the peaceful symbolism of an olive branch. This Olive tree dates back nearly 3,700 years, and its oil is known to be the mainstay of the healthy Mediterranean diet. They start producing fruit after 3 years, but in terms of production, don't be surprised if your tree seems to take every other year off. Olives are described as alternate-year-bearing species and typically have a year of heavy fruit production followed by a year of lighter production. Pollen can cause allergic reaction.
  • Designer Considerations: is considered an evergreen tree, a flowering tree and an ornamental tree and keeps its leaves year-round. When flowering, it adds visual interest and beauty to landscaping and can be used as a specimen tree, shade tree or as an accent in any landscape. It is suitable for use in xeriscaping.​​

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