African Olive

Olea europaea ssp. cuspidata

Family: Oleaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , ,

Description

African Olive is an evergreen tree usually to heights and widths of 5–10 m. Bark is pale to dark grey developing a rough texture with age.

The upper surface of the leaves is glossy grey green and the underside is silver, green to brown with a hooked tip.

White flowers appear in spring on branchlets in leaf axils (where leaves join the stem).

Fruit is oval shaped, initially green maturing over autumn and winter to purple or black. African Olive produces thousands of seeds.

Don’t confuse with…

This weed can be confused with the native Mock Olive (Notelaea longifolia).

Dispersal

Seed is dispersed by birds and foxes.

Impact on bushland

If not controlled the plant will take over large areas forming huge, dense monocultures of African Olive. It is considered an ecosystem transformer.

Distribution

. From Mid Mountains (Woodford, Hazelbrook, Faulconbridge) to Lapstone and on the Cumberland Plains.

Alternative planting

Native plants

Local provenance:

  • Grevillea spp.
  • Banksia spp.
  • Hakea spp.

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

  • Seedlings can be hand pulled, ensuring all the roots are removed.
  • More established plants will need to be cut and painted.
  • Larger plants can be stem injected. The wood of African Olives is very hard, so ensure drilling or chiselling gets well into the stem.

Because the berries are spread by birds, it is best to treat plants before they fruit. Alternatively, dispose of the fruit. Other parts of the plant can be spread out off the ground. Once the material is dead it will decompose in place.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: