University of Florida

Plant Identification Learning Module:
Fruits & Nuts

Olive (Olea europaea)

Olive is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree believed to be native to Asia Minor and cultivated in Iran, Syria, and throughout the Mediterranean Basin up to 6000 years ago. The foliage consist of thick, lanceolate to elliptical opposite leaves that are typically gray-green on the upper surface and silver on the lower surface. The leaf margin is often rolled under. The bark is often gray in color, smooth (young trees) or rough and gnarled on older trees. The flowers are small, white and racemose. The fruit is classified as a drupe and is edible only after processing. Olive oil extracted from the fruit is a major agricultural commodity in Mediterranean climates, where olives are best adapted.