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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Olea europaea - Olive

The olive tree is small evergreen tree or large shrub growing to about 25' here. It has a rounded spreading canopy with puffs of foliage arising from the multiple upright branches coming off of an gnarly old trunk. The trees have been planted for centuries for the olive and the oil that is pressed from them. They impart a classical Mediterranean look to a landscape in CA.

There are hundreds of cultivars, some grown for the fruit, others grown because they are fruitless. The ones below are the original 'Swan Hill',  a fruitless variety.

Leaves are evergreen, grayish green to bright green, oppositely arranged, narrowly elliptical to oblong, 1 1/2" to 3" long by about 1/2" wide margins entire, upper surface with varying degrees of hairs with cause the foliage to be gray colored. The lower surface is silver colored as is the petiole. 

Stems are thin, covered with white hairs like the bottom of the leaves. Buds are very small.

Flowers are small, yellowish green color in late spring, not really noticeable unless you are allergic to the pollen. They are fragrant as well.

Fruit, do I need to show you a picture of an olive? Its a drupe of course with a single hard pit.

This is why many people plant seedless varieties such as Swan Hill.

The trunks of old trees is why I would want one in my yard. Deeply ridged but a smooth silver layer of bark.

Misidentification: Not likely, its pretty obvious with the silver covering over the leaves and the bark.

Locations: Tons of them, some nice ones along Portola Dr between 36th and 38th.

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