- Olea – (Latin) Olive.
- europaea – from Europe
- cuspidata – from Latin and meaning sharp-pointed, probably referring to the pointed leaf apex.
Common Names: Wild Olive, (Eng), olienhout (Afr), mohlware (Nso), mohloaare (Sso) umncuma (Swa), mutlhwari (Tso) motlhware(Tsw), mutwari (Ven), and umnqumo (Zul)
SAF Number: 617 Zim Number: 810
A single stemmed tree with a dense, rounded and spreading crown.
Size: 5- 8 m ( –12m) by 6 – 10 m (-15m)
- Small flowers are clustered in the leaf axils towards the end of branches.
Colour: Creamy-white to greenish-white.
Flowering Months: Oct – Feb.
Fragrance: Sweetly scented.
- Simple leaves are lanceolate 2 – 10 cm by .7 – 1.5 cm and are alternate opposite.
- Leaves are opaque when held against the light.
- Dark green above, pale grey below.
Thorns: No thorns.
- Round to oval fruits (.5 – 1cm).
- Green ripening to purplish black.
- Each fruit contains 1 seed.
- Edible, pleasant but variable taste.
Bark: Rough, grey, grey-brown or dark brown.
In the Garden:
- A very popular garden, park and street tree in many parts of South Africa for its classic form and adaptability.
- Because it is drought and cold resistant, it is a good choice for gardens on the Highveld.
- Good wildlife friendly plants, attracting many insects and birds.
- An ideal evergreen shade tree or for making an evergreen avenue.
- May be used to good effect for screening.
- Good as container plants.
- Very good bonsai subjects.
Will grow in most soil types, but prefers a slightly alkaline soil.
- A low maintenance garden subject.
- Fast growing while young, feed and nourish for best results.
- Prone to red-spider attack when stressed.
- May be pruned to create a pleasing shape.
Cold Hardiness: Very cold hardy.
- Drought hardy, but will be happier with regular watering.
Light Requirements: Full sun or light shade.
Roots: The roots are not aggressive.
- The fruit are eaten by many different bird species.
- Used by insectivorous birds for foraging and gleaning.
- Provide good nesting sites for many garden birds.
Insects and Butterflies:
- Insects and adult butterflies visit the flowers for nectar.
- Leaves contain compounds Oleuropein and Oleacein that work together to lower blood pressure.
- Widely used in traditional medicine for numerous conditions from colic to sore throats.
Poisonous: Not poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- The edible fruit is much sought after by humans, other mammals and birds.
- The heavy, close grained wood has a beautiful finish and is sought after for furniture.
- The wood is also used for fence posts and, sadly, as firewood.
- The European form is thought to have evolved from the African sub-species.
- Leaves may be brewed as a tea substitute.
- WC, NC, Nam, EC, KZN, Les, FS, Swa, M, G, NW, L, southern Moz and Zim.
- North of our region its distribution extends to Ethiopia as well as the Mascarenes.
- Grasslands, fynbos, Nama-Karoo, thickets, savanna-bushveld, savanna-lowveld, and savanna-woodlands.
- Found along water courses, open woodland, among rocks and in kloofs.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2018.