I usually feature plants that people in the Northeast can grow. But since I just returned from Italy, this tree is on my mind.
Name: Olea europaea ‘Leccino’ aka the Leccino olive, the plant that makes the fruit that is used to make Italian olive oil
Type of Plant: A tree that is hardy in zones 8 to 10, with lovely, silvery foliage all year around and pretty fruit that is used to make olive oil. This is one of the first trees to be cultivated by people.
Why I Love/Hate this plant: You have to admire a plant that grows in areas where there are months that are hot but without rainfall. And this plant seems designed to endure. In the orchards there are often huge stumps and large, old roots with a tree topping them. These roots and stumps show signs of fire or other injuries, but although the original tree trunk is long gone, others have grown up to replace previous growth that was destroyed.
A Word to the Wise: Sometimes people try to grow this plant in a container that stays indoors during the winter. If you want olives, however, you’ll need a place to over-winter them where the temperatures stay between 40 and 50 degrees for two months. If the plants are kept too warm, they won’t flower. So not the easiest plant to grow in colder regions.
Although we can’t grow olives outdoors in New England, be sure to travel to locations where they do flourish. Get yourself to California, Greece, or Italy…you’ll have a new appreciation for olive oil every time you enjoy some.
Here are some of the photos I took in Umbria this week.