Olea Europaea

Olea Europaea

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Africana (Wild Olive)

Olea europaea subsp. africana is a neatly shaped evergreen tree with a dense spreading crown (9 x 12 m) of glossy grey-green to dark-green foliage. Leaves are grey-green to dark-green above and greyish below. The rough, grey bark sometimes peels off in strips.
Sprays of tiny, lightly scented white to greenish flowers (October to February) are followed (March to July) by small, spherical, thinly fleshy fruits (either sweet or sour) which ripen purple-black
Don't plant it too close to walls, patios or swimming pools, the root system can sometimes be aggressive. Always add plenty of compost to the planting area and apply a thick mulch layer (organic material, like dried leaves) to protect the soil surface. Water moderately throughout the year. This tree has a wide distribution in South Africa and grows in both summer and winter rainfall areas. It also occurs in very dry areas, and tolerates temperatures ranging from about - 5°C to 40°C.


The fruits are popular with people, monkeys, baboons, mongooses, bushpigs, warthogs and birds (e.g. redwinged and pied starlings, Rameron pigeons, African green pigeons, Cape parrots and louries). Leaves are browsed by game and stock. This tree is an asset on farms and game farms, especially in very dry areas because it is extremely hardy and is an excellent fodder tree.


A tea can be made from the leaves. The hard, heavy and beautiful golden-brown wood is used for furniture, ornaments, spoons and durable fence posts. An ink is made from the juice of the fruit. Traditional remedies prepared from this plant serve as eye lotions and tonics, lower blood pressure, improve kidney function and deal with sore throats. The early Cape settlers used the fruits to treat diarrhoea.


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