A vigorous plant with a very dense crown of an upward shape. the fruit is light green at harvest. Large sized fruits (8-10 g) are excellent for table use. Produces a light type of oil. Good resistance to cold and the olive fruit fly. Pollinators: Lea, Rosciola, Leccino, Frantoio, Pendolino.
Small to midsized tree with an open growing habit. Fruit sets in clusters like grapes. Late maturing with high oil content.
Oil variety from Spain. High yield of mild oil and high, constant productivity. Very compact tree, good for intensive planting and small spaces.
Italian origin; This olive produces a strong peppery oil from medium sized fruits. An early producer with good resistance to drought and cold. Very adaptable to different soils and climates. Pollinators: Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo.
Most commonly the main component for a Tuscan style oil. Consistently produces a high yield, very fruity oil. The medium size fruit ripens on the late side. A self-compatible tree, but will benefit greatly from other pollinators.
Greek variety used for oil but especially known for its exceptional cured olives. High productivity with alternate tendencies that can be minimized with pruning and irrigation.
Greek variety that produces a very small fruit on a medium sized tree. Adapts well to warm areas. Highly prized for its distinctive and pungent green oil. Because of high polyphenol content it is often blended with other oils to provide a nice "punch."
Vigorous growth and comes into production early. Medium yield, producing good, mildly fruity oil. Medium sized fruit that ripens early. Originally from Tuscany, but cultivated widely. Needs pollinator.
Compact tree from Tuscany that is good for hedgerows and especially windy areas. Also known as a pollinator because of its profuse flowering. Medium oil yield that produces a highly regarded, delicate oil.
Vigorous plant with a rising habit. The most important Spanish cultivar. Appreciated on the international markets for the recognizable shape of the fruit, the ease of removing the pit, and for the excellent quality of the flesh. Leaves are medium-small, elliptical and bright green in color.
Strong vigorous tree with an erect habit and medium density canopy. Prized as a dual purpose variety; used in green and black pickling as well as oil production. Considered hardy because of its resistance to cold.
Small fruit said to have up to 24% oil content of high quality. Italian origins. Consistent bearer. Early producer.
Tuscan varietal that produces early-ripening fruit with a light, delicate quality oil. It has a pendulous vegetative habit and is known as a pollinator due to abundant flowering. Needs pollinator
French variety prized for both oil production and curing. Cured green for the classic Martini garnish. Ripening is late with medium yield. Best production with Leccino pollinator.
A late ripening, self-fertile Italian variety with small to medium sized fruits. Mature trees are of average size and have a slightly weeping growth habit. Fruit yields a fine, light and fruity oil. Olives are black when cured, and have a nutty taste.
Very large fruit, bluish-black when ripe. Ripens early. Low oil content, only useful in pickling. Used for making Sicilian style salt brine cured olives, and also the leading canning cultivar. A strong grower with reliable yields. Requires deep, rich, well-drained soil. Relatively low cold tolerance.
Olive Tree Care
Olive trees are easy to grow. Making olives or olive oil requires dedication and equipment. Some gardeners will prefer the fruitless variety to get “the look of olive trees” without the fruit.
There are many factors to consider when selecting the planting location. Olives thrive in hot, dry summers, but also grow in coastal regions. Olives grow well in well drained soil where winter temperatures do not drop below 22°-25°F (green fruit will be damaged at 32°F). Conversely, average winter temperatures above 50°F will inhibit fruiting. Hot dry winds can damage flowers and cause immature fruit to drop. Plant in full sun and away from paved areas to avoid stains from fallen ripe fruit. Pollinator trees will increase yields, so for serious harvest, plant more than one variety.
In California, monthly deep watering of trees is adequate, once trees are established. Because of the small tough leaves and slow transpiration rate of olive trees, they survive extended dry periods.
Many olive varieties will naturally reach 30 feet in height. Exceptions are Arbequina and Kalamata, which remain smaller. Avoid pruning during the rainy season. Olive trees will tolerate radical pruning, so it is relatively easy to keep them at the desired height. Pruning regulates fruit production and shapes the tree for easier harvest. Fruit is generally borne on the previous year's growth. Many farmers are now using a trellis system for commercial plantings.
Fertilizing with nitrogen from commercial or organic sources is beneficial for fruit production. Farmers apply fertilizer long before flowers form so trees adsorb the nitrogen before fruit set.
Olive trees have fewer pests than other fruit trees. Biological control with natural enemies is preferred over conventional pesticides, because olive oil will adsorb the odor of chemicals.
Olive fruit can be harvested green or later for processing for table olives. Oil can be squeezed from freshly picked crushed fruit. Both of these endeavors require equipment, time and a sizeable volume of fruit.