Common: European Olive
California, S Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Hawaii; introduced from eastern Mediterranean region
Olive is a large shrub or small evergreen tree cultivated for thousands of years in the Mediterranean region, where it is native. It was introduced into the US, but nearly all commercial production of fruit and oil is done in California. It is also used for landscaping purposes, and in Hawaii (Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai) it has become naturalized; such introductions result in additional cases of allergy. Its small, narrow, dark green leaves approach 2 inches in length but less than half an inch wide, and are arranged in pairs. The tiny fragrant whitish flowers are produced at the ends of the twigs in clusters. The fruits, typically about an inch long, develop and ripen about 6-8 months after flowering.