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European OliveOlea europaea

  • Northern Red Oak - Quercus rubra
  • European Olive Tree
  • European Olive Tree
  • European Olive Tree

The European olive flourishes in hot, dry areas, limiting its reach to Hardiness Zones 9–11. Though it can only grow in a select area of the U.S., this broadleaf evergreen is widely celebrated for its beauty in many corner of the world.

While used for commercial purposes, the tree makes a great ornamental in backyard landscapes.

Hardiness Zones

The european olive can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 9–11. View Map

Tree Type

This is an evergreen tree, keeping its foliage year-round.

Mature Size

The European olive grows to a height of 30–40' and a spread of 30–40' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The European olive grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, sandy and well-drained soils. It tolerates dry conditions.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Yields green to black olives that are ½" in diameter and can be cured for eating or pressed for oil once ripe. (Unprocessed olives are inedible.)
  • Produces small white blooms in loose clusters in the spring.
  • Tolerates heat, wind and dry conditions well.
  • Features lance-shaped dark green leaves that change very little in the fall and persist year-round.
  • Grows in a rounded, spreading or horizontal shape.
  • Relies on wind for pollination.
  • Often requires staking and regular yearly pruning.

Wildlife Value

Insects attracted by to European olive also become food for birds and reptiles. Animals seek shelter and protection from predators and the elements in the tree. Birds also use it for nesting.

History/Lore

The olive branch is the symbol for peace. This tree dates back nearly 3,700 years, and its oil is the mainstay of the healthy Mediterranean diet.