Olea europaea - Olive Trees
About Olea europaea:Olea europaea, the European Olive, is a lovely evergreen tree with lanceolate grey-green leaves. It is very disease resistant and is hardy to -10C and in harsh winters it will need protection from severe frost and cold winds.
It can be grown in the ground in a sheltered corner or against a south facing wall but it will need a covering of horticultural fleece in winter. If grown in a pot it should be moved to a greenhouse or conservatory in the winter months.
It will produce small white flowers in the summer and, given a good hot season, should fruit. The fruits, however, seldom ripen in the United Kingdom except in micro climates such as those found in walled gardens in London. Only prune out dead, diseased or dying shoots in late spring and, for container specimens, just pinch out the tips in summer to encourage branching.
Great for your garden:Olea europaea is perfect for use in a sheltered spot where the elegant shape and grey-green leaf colour can contrast with smaller shrubs or herbaceous planting. It is also a very good pot specimen providing the container is large enough to accommodate the root growth, giving height to a grouping on a terrace.
It can be used as part of a formal scheme associating well with evergreens such as box and sarcococca. It can also be used in a Mediterranean planting scheme with rosemary, lavender plants, canna lilies and other warm climate varieties.
Olea europaea characteristics.
Look out for:When grown in the UK, olea europaea plants are not fully hardy, which means that a long period of cold weather (below -10c) could cause bark split, dieback and leaf drop. Any plants damaged by frosty weather should grow back from dormant buds along their branches, but its flowering and fruiting that season will be reduced.
Trivia:The Olive has always been the most important tree for all cultures throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, Asia and Africa, Olive oil being a great source of wealth. It is believed that production and sale of the oil formed the basis of the success of the Minoan civilization 3,000 years ago. The word oil derives from the Latin word for this tree - Oliva.
It is hardy, drought and fire resistant and can regenerate from the root even when the trunk has been destroyed. It is also one of the longest living trees known to the world with specimens believed to have survived 2,000 years.