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Mexican Olive



BOTANICAL NAME: Cordia boissieri

PRONUNCIATION: KOR-dee-ah BOIS-see-err-ee

FAMILY: Boraginaceae (Borage Family)

TYPE: Small evergreen tree

HEIGHT: 15 to 25 feet

SPREAD: 10 to 15 feet

FINAL SPACING: 10 to 15 feet

NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Wild olive grows in the far southern tip of Texas, in the counties along the Rio Grande. It is adaptable as far north as San Antonio but will freeze to the ground there in harsh winters.

IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: This is the beautiful tree just to the left of the front door of the Alamo in San Antonio. It is a rounded evergreen tree with dramatic white flowers and velvety leaves.

FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Flowers are large, trumpet-shaped, brilliant white with yellow throats, 2 to 3 inches wide. Flowers form in football size clusters and appear year round but are the most profuse in the spring and early summer. The white fruit is sweet and eaten by wildlife and livestock. It is a round droop 1 inch long, shiny white to pale yellow turning yellowish brown. There is a single spindle shaped seed that is about 3/8 inch long.


BARK: Young twigs are brown to grayish and fuzzy. The bark becomes darker gray, tinged with red, and heavier textured with age.

FOLIAGE: Leaves are velvety soft to the touch, 4 to 5 inches long, approximately 3 to 4 inches wide, light to medium green with brown fuzz on the underside of the leaves.

CULTURE: Wild olive needs a lot of water to get established but is drought tolerant once established.

PROBLEMS: Freeze damage anywhere north of San Antonio.

PROPAGATION: Wild olive can be grown from seed which are collected and planted immediately after maturing in the fall.

INSIGHT: Fruit is reported to be sweet, pulpy and edible although warnings exist that it causes dizziness when eaten in excess. A jelly made in Mexico from the fruit is reported to be a remedy for coughs and the leaves are used as a traditional home cure for rheumatism and bronchial problems.


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