Olive trees are attractive, bear fruit and can withstand bitterly cold winters and dry summers.

The olive is native to the Mediterranean, Africa and Eastern Europe. Home-grown olives require a long, hot growing season and a cool winter to ensure good fruit and growth, which is why New Zealand is now an established olive-growing region.

Evergreen olive trees can grow quite large if left to their own devices, sometimes reaching more than 10 metres high.

The small flowers, once pollinated, give way to small drupe fruit, that are oval, green and hard. They generally turn a shade of purple or black when fully ripe.

What is distinctive about olive trees is that they can have ‘on’ or ‘off’ years, sometimes spending more energy in a growing season regenerating new wood than bearing an abundance of fruit.

Don’t despair, because they aren’t that complicated to grow. Olive trees are survivors. The olive fruit is bitter and unpalatable in its ripe but raw state. Each olive will need some kind of processing by brining, pickling or squashing to make it palatable to humans

Ascalano

Attains H6-9m produces a very large high quality eating fruit, demonstrates typical siver grey colouration of olives in general. this is a great tree for standardising

El Greco

A small and slow-growing tree with a compact form which produces a heavy yield of fruit with good oil content in the summer. Thin, green/silver coloured leaves and multiple branching add colour and texture when used as screening or as a garden feature. The bark is light grey.  Good hedging olive.

Mission

Tall growing, hardy variety.  Fruit from the heavy-bearing tree primarily gets used for table olives and oil. The hardy, large-sized tree stays tolerant of cold and drought.  When Mission olives are first harvested, the medium-size, deep-purple fruit tastes bitter. As the fruits mature into jet-black orbs, the taste changes to that of a more tropical-tasting fruit. Mission olive trees are self-fertile, but will produce more fruit when they are cross-pollinated with another olive tree.

Verdale

Green oil.  A dual purpose self-fertile olive, good for oil and fruit. Silvery ornamental foliage. A reliable hardy variety that has been around for a long time. 3m.