Species list


Phillyrea angustifolia

Narrow-leaved mock privet

Narrow-leaved mock privet (Eng); olivillo, labiérnago blanco (Spa); aladern de fulla estreta (Cat); gartxu hostoestua (Baq); aderno-de-folhas-estreitas (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? As the fruits of the narrow-leaved mock privet pass through the digestive tract of some birds, their thick, hard seed cover is worn away, facilitating their subsequent germination.


Evergreen shrub or small tree up to 5 m tall. It has a dense, open shape, with slender, more or less upright and generally flexible branches, and a short trunk that soon branches, generating a crown that may touch the ground. The bark is more or less smooth and greyish brown becoming darker as the plant reaches maturity. The leaves are simple, opposite, and linear-lanceolate in shape. They are usually three times longer than they are wide (3-8 cm long by 1 cm wide) and have almost no stalk. They generally have an entire whole margin or a few, small, widely-spaced teeth. They are leathery, green on the upper side and paler on the underside. This species is 'androdioecious', meaning it contains individuals with hermaphroditic flowers and others whose flowers are apparently hermaphroditic but that only function as males. The tiny, highly-perfumed flowers appear in the spring on short twigs next to the base of the leaf stalks. Each bloom has 4 greenish white petals that are joined at the base into a very short tube. In general, the narrow-leaved mock privet is reminiscent of the olive trees Olea cerasiformis and Olea europaea. Nevertheless, it differs from these by its small fleshy fruits (drupes) that are less than 1 cm in diameter, bluish black when ripe and rounded at first, becoming pointed at the apex. Each fruit contains a nutlet.


This is a tree of the thermophilous forests. Phillyrea angustifolia withstands high summer temperatures and droughts, but not cold temperatures. It is indifferent to soil type (limey or siliceous) and can survive on sandy to clayey substrates, as well as those that are poor in nutrients and organic matter. In the Canary Islands this species tends to be found almost exclusively below altitudes of 500 m, in thermophilous forest or at the lower edge of the monteverde forest zone. In Gran Canaria, specifically in the Tamadaba pine grove, solitary specimens are found in the underbrush of humid pine, where it intermingles, at the lowest edge, with the upper limit of the monteverde scrub.


This species is native to the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean (particularly the western section). In the Canaries it has become established in the wild on Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.