​​​​​​​European Olive

Olea europaea spp.

  • Common Name: Olive Tree (other common names: African olive, European olive)
  • Scientific Name: Olea europaea spp.
  • Family Name: Oleaceae
  • Origin: Mediterranean Basin - Europe
  • Height: canopies can get up to 30’ if grown in fertile soils
  • Width: 8’ – 10’
  • Growth: Fast
  • Zone: 8A - 11
  • Light Needs: Full sun
  • Salt Tolerance:  low - moderate
  • Soil/PH/Texture: olives grow well on almost any well-drained soil up to a pH of 8.5 and are tolerant of mild saline conditions, sand-dominated soils are best as olives are susceptible to root rot diseases in moist or wet soils. Nutrient requirements for olive are low, and the trees do not produce well on highly fertile soils. Neutral – alkaline (pH 6.6 – 8.5)
  • Soil Moisture: Avoid planting olives in low areas where standing water accumulates after rainfalls. They have a protective cuticle which slows water loss, allowing olives to survive extended dry periods, overabundance of moisture may cause the flowers to drop and reduce fruit yield.
  • Drought Tolerance: high
  • Pests/Diseases: relatively pest- and disease-free tree in much of the world, in Florida they are susceptible to scale insects, which secrete honeydew that leads to the growth of sooty mold and the occasional caterpillars or grasshoppers, also keep an eye out for Olive knot, verticillium wilt and root rot.
  • Growing Conditions: easy to grow and low maintenance
  • Characteristics: Leaves are opposite and elliptical with a narrow apex that is sharply pointed, the leaf color differs, gray green on the upper surface and lighter on the lower surface, almost appearing white to silver. The two- to three-year-old leaves usually fall at the same time new growth appears in the spring. Olive flowers have four green sepals, four white petals, two stamens, and a pistil containing a single carpel which will eventually become an olive if the flower is successfully pollinated. Floral development in the olive can be quite complex, some flowers that are staminate (have only male parts), some flowers that are pistillate (have only female parts), and some flowers that are hermaphrodite (have both male and female parts) but all can be on the same individual tree (an andromonoecious species). The fruit/drupe, a fleshy fruit with a stony seed in the center. Olive fruit generally are green and become blackish-purple when fully ripe, although some cultivars may remain green when ripe or turn a shade of copper-brown.
  • Propagation: by woody stem cuttings (flowers are sterile, seeding plants will not come true from seed)
  • Wildlife: attracts birds and butterflies
  • Facts: An olive branch is a symbol of peace. Olive production in Florida has occurred for many years now, with a few farms successfully producing fruit on a small scale. In recent years, the interest in larger-scaled high-density production has increased in Florida, and new orchards have the potential to produce olives for the fruit and oil markets. Homeowners now can purchase olive trees for their landscapes from local growers and from large retail stores. Olives typically are not eaten raw from the tree and are considered unpalatable as they contain an alkaloid that makes them bitter. The olive tree has a lot of mythical associations from the Greek Gods to Roman Legends and to the Bible. The oil from the olive fruit has a long history of use from lamps, anointing the brave, as a kitchen use to reduce cholesterol levels and heart disease, wine, massage, cosmetics, soap, and many more uses.
  • Designer Considerations: used as a landscape ornamental and may also provide opportunities for home fruit production, also used as accent tree, specimen plant or container plant for your patio or deck.​​

Location

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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

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