Native to South Texas and northern Mexico, the Texas Olive is an evergreen tree with endless beauty and durability. This amazing tree withstands the unrelenting Coastal Bend summer heat, yet can also tolerate our worst winter cold snaps. Texas Olive makes an excellent specimen tree in your landscape — it can be combined with a shrub border to add interest, and it’s ideal for those looking to xeriscape.
The Texas Olive, also known as Mexican Olive, has shredded, cedar-like bark and velvety green leaves, and sets itself apart with trumpet-shaped white flowers adorning the canopy of the tree. They typically bloom sporadically from early spring into fall. The fallen blossoms mimic snowfall as the breeze carries them off the branches and swirls them around, blanketing the earth beneath.
Texas Olive produces a fruit that resembles an olive; however, this tree is not closely related to the Arbequina olive, which produces the fruit primarily used to make olive oil — or any olive tree varieties, for that matter.
But plenty of wildlife species benefit from the Texas Olive: Hummingbirds and butterflies dine on the nectar of the gorgeous white flowers, and numerous ground-dwelling species enjoy its fallen fruit.
There are very few plants that can boast the ability to bloom throughout the year. The Texas Olive is an exceptional tree that will provide many years of enjoyment, as specimens have been known to live well past 100 years old.
Texas Olive is an ideal choice when considering drought and heat tolerance; it can be easily grown in the Coastal Bend region. The tree prefers full sun and well-drained soil, and does not mind even the hottest summer days in the Coastal Bend, so water until established. No supplemental water should be needed. It will grow quickly in alkaline or acidic soils, and no insects or diseases are a serious threat.
When planting a Texas Olive, dig the hole twice as wide as the plant and as deep as the root ball. Choose a spot that receives full sun and allow for up to 20 ft. of growth and a trunk up to 12 in. in diameter. Prune in late winter and remove any unwanted suckers that have sprouted. If temperatures dip below 20 degrees, this tree might lose its leaves, but no other significant damage should occur.
The fruit of the Texas Olive is considered ornamental, but is edible to humans. However, its taste is often disagreeable to those who try it. The fallen fruit and flowers can be messy, so be mindful when planting near spaces you want kept tidy like pools or patios. Consider planting near a compost pile, where you can rake the material into the heap or simply let nature clean up the mess over time.