Species list


Olea europaea


Olive (Eng), acebuche, olivo silvestre (Spa), olivera borda (Cat), basa olivoa (Baq), acebuche (gall,); zambujeiro (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? This tree is the ancestor of all the varieties of olive trees that are grown around the world and is still used as a rootstock.


The olive is a small tree which does not exceed 8-10 m in height. The trunk is short and not very straight. It is wide at the base with internodes and gaps, and mature specimens have a twisted look. Its branches often end in sharp tips, something which is absent in the cultivated varieties. The leaves are persistent, opposite and lanceolate with an entire margin. They are very pointed, leathery, dark green on the upper side and silvery on the underside due to a very dense layer of hairs, which can only be seen with a magnifying glass. The flowers appear in spring and are very small, with 4 whitish petals. The fruit, the olive, is a fleshy drupe that changes from green to violet or black when ripe, and which contains a stone, or pit.


This plant is adapted to the Mediterranean climate, with mild winters (they are severely affected by frosts) and hot, dry summers. It occurs naturally with holm oaks, carobs, European fan palms and mastics, although it does occasionally form groves. It is indifferent to soil type and grows from sea level up to 1500 m in the south, always in sunny spots.


The olive tree is found throughout the Mediterranean area as well as certain parts of the Atlantic coast in southwestern Europe. Although varieties of olive trees are cultivated and grown as ornamentals throughout the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands, this wild species is more localised across the region. It is well represented in the Valle del Guadalquivir and the mountains of Cádiz and Huelva.