Species list


Olea europaea


Olive (Eng); olivo, acebuche (Spa); olivera (Cat); olibondo (Baq); oliveira (Glg).


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 occasionally terminate in sharp points. The leaves are persistent, opposite, and narrowly lanceolate with an entire margin. They are 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 leaves are 7 cm long and just over 1.5 cm wide. The flowers appear in spring and are very small, with 4 whitish petals. The fruit is a fleshy drupe, an olive, which changes from green to violet or black when ripe, and which contains a large stone, or pit.


This plant is adapted to the Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot, dry summers. It is indifferent to soil type but needs direct sunlight. It shares its habitat with its relative (Olea cerasiformis), growing mainly in the thermophilous forests. As it is frequently cultivated for oil and olive production, it is easy to find this tree established in the wild near populated areas. Other naturalised specimens can be found on slopes and in the bottoms of ravines and steep crags, where they tend to be solitary.


The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean region and certain parts of the Atlantic coast in southwestern Europe. It first arrived on the Canary Islands, as a crop species, soon after the Spanish conquest. It is currently established in the wild on El Hierro, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.