The wild olive is a neat, well shaped evergreen tree with grey foliage and a spreading crown. Although this tree is relatively slow growing, it can reach a mature height of 4 to 5m in cultivation. This tree is common in almost every region of South Africa and is normally found growing on rocky hillsides, on stream banks and in woodlands.
This tree’s bark is brown or charcoal in colour with a rough texture when mature. The white /green small flowers produced by the wild olive tree in summer attract bees and butterflies. After flowering, fleshy purple berries are produced that is also a favourite of birds.
It can be planted as a formal or informal hedge. The root system of Olea africana is sometimes aggressive hence this tree needs to be planted at a distance of about 4 metres from a building and a pool. When this tree grows along rivers, it is useful in stabilising the soil. The Wild olive is very hardy and can withstand drought and frost conditions. It is an ideal tree for screening purposes and can be utilised as a fodder tree on game farms and lodges. It responds well to pruning.