AZ Arboretums

Olea europaea

Desert zinnia

Common: Olive, European olive
Family: Oleaceae
Origin: Probably originated in Asia Minor, but grown for thousands of years in Mediterranean region
Sunset Zone: 8, 9, 11-24
Light: Full sun
Soil: Most lush when growing in deep, rich soil, but will also grow in shallow, alkaline or stony soil and with little fertilizer.
Water: Soak root zone every month or two from late spring to early fall.

Informal and picturesque, tolerant of desert conditions. Patio or street tree. Now for lawn areas where it tends to get too much water. Smooth gray trunks and branches become gnarled and picturesque.

Grow slowly, reaching 25-30 ft. high and as wide. Willowlike foliage, gray green, stiff and leathery. Trees of fruiting varieties blacken and drop fruit late in the year. Reduce crop by spraying with fruit-control hormones when tiny white flowers appear. Fruit may be pickled or pressed for oil.

Flower and fruit litter, hay fever are problems. Many areas are passing ordinances against fruiting olives and are requiring "fruitless" varieties.

First olives in United States were said to be planted by Franciscans at the San Diego mission in the 18th century. Olives live for hundreds of years, and survive drought, heat, and poor soil. Withstand heavy pruning