Ajuntament de Barcelona

Olea europaea subsp. europaea

Joan Brossa Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Spanish name: 
    English name: 
    Wild olive tree
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Olea europaea var. silvestris

    According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conservation status of this plant is least concern.

    Species characteristics
    Middle East
    Rocky lands, garrigues and coastal formations in warm and dry areas of temperate climate

    Perennial shrub 1-1.5 m tall, with not very definite trunk, dense rounded crown and complicated branches (the bottom ones are prickled).

    The leathery leaves, 1-7 cm long and 0.4-2.2 cm wide, are opposite and entire. Their shape is elliptical or lanceolate with blunt apex and entire margin, slightly rolled. The upper side is dark green and the lower side is a lighter greyish-green and tomentose (covered by a kind of down), with a well-marked central nerve.

    The small greenish yellowish flowers appear into axillary bunches.

    The fruit is a not very fleshy nor very oily ovoid or slightly globose drupe, 1-2 cm long, with a single seed.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    Wild Olive Tree is gaining popularity as a repoblation tree in landscape and in gardening both because of its strength and its better growth than other species. Also because of its resilience to drought and tolerance to pruning.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Olea europaea, consists of the genus name Olea, from the Latin olea, “olive tree”, and the Latin term europaea, “European”.

    The wild olive tree, appeared in Middle East, was considered holy in the Ancient Greece: the kings' scepters were made with its wood (according the mythology, Hercules' mace also was) and the winners of athletic events at the Olympic Games were crowned with branches of this plant, in what would be equivalent to the current golden medal. It was particularly strong the vinculation of the wild olive tree with the cult to Apollo and in front of the temples that were devouted to Apollo it was usual to plant wild olive trees, from which branches were hanged offerings and weapons.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996