the olive



Hoffmanns. & Link

pronounced: oh-lee-AY-see-eye

the olive family


The name of the type genus, Olea, is the Latin name for the olive and for its oil. The plants of this family are woody, mostly trees and shrubs, and a few lianas. Some of the shrubs are scandent, and climb by scrambling into other vegetation. The leaves are almost always opposite, may be simple or pinnately compound, and are without stipules. Their blades are pinnately veined, and the margins can be serrate, dentate or entire. Evergreen species predominate in warm temperate and tropical surroundings, and deciduous species in colder regions. The flowers are most often bisexual, occurring in racemes or panicles. They are often fragrant. There are 2 stamens, inserted in the corolla tube and alternate with the corolla lobes. The stigmas have 2 lobes. There is a compound pistil with 2 carpels, the ovary is superior with 2 locules, and there are usually 2 ovules per locule. The fruit can be a berry, drupe, capsule or samara.


Illustration by Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen , via Wikimedia Commons