Plant family: Oleaceae - Olive
Plant type: Shrub, Tree
Plant origin: N/A, California
Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub, Creosote Bush Scrub, Desert, Oak Woodland, Riparian
Sand, Sandy Loam, Rocky
Attracts Wildlife, Hedges and Screens
Desert olive is a highly recommended but underutilized small tree. This small, multi-trunked tree has satiny smooth white bark and small, bright green deciduous leaves that turn a bright yellow in fall before defoliating for the winter. It is related to the much used European olive but is more cold hardy, more tolerant of poor soils, and is much friendlier to our native birds. Desert olives are adapted to a wide variety of California plant communities, thus making it highly adaptable for the home garden. The small chartreuse flowers that appear in spring are fragrant. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Male trees are fantastic patio and street trees as they do not bear fruit. Female trees are great habitat plants as they produce abundant amounts of blue-black berries that birds and many other small animals relish. Plant in full sun or partial shade in well draining soil and it will grow rapidly to its full size of 9-12’ feet tall and 5-8’ wide. Nice as an informal hedge in hot, dry locations. Looks best with some water.
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