Olea europaea subsp. africana is a neatly shaped evergreen tree with a dense spreading crown (9 x 12 m) of glossy grey-green to dark-green foliage. Leaves are grey-green to dark-green above and greyish below. The rough, grey bark sometimes peels off in strips. Sprays of tiny, lightly scented white to greenish flowers (October to February) are followed (March to July) by small, spherical, thinly fleshy fruits (either sweet or sour) which ripen purple-black. This tree is found in a variety of habitats, often near water, e.g. on rocky hillsides, on stream banks and in woodland (where it can reach 12 m). It is widespread in Africa, Mascarene Islands, Arabia, India to China. The Latin name for olive is olea; europaea = from Europe, and africana = from Africa. There are four species of Olea in South Africa. The fruits are popular with people, monkeys, baboons, mongooses, bushpigs, warthogs and birds (e.g. redwinged and pied starlings, Rameron pigeons, African green pigeons, Cape parrots and louries). Leaves are browsed by game and stock. This tree is an asset on farms and game farms, especially in very dry areas because it is extremely hardy and is an excellent fodder tree. A tea can be made from the leaves. The hard, heavy and beautiful golden-brown wood is used for furniture, ornaments, spoons and durable fence posts. An ink is made from the juice of the fruit. Traditional remedies prepared from this plant serve as eye lotions and tonics, lower blood pressure, improve kidney function and deal with sore throats. The early Cape settlers used the fruits to treat diarrhoea.
USDA Zone - 8
Season to sow - Spring
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