Fruitless Olive Tree
Olives are fruits, we love to eat them. Then why would you want a fruitless olive tree? Would you want a fruitless apple tree? A grapeless grape vine? The fruitless olive tree is a popular addition to many backyard patios for a number of reasons. Primarily shade and the ease of upkeep. The are also visually stunning with twisted and contorted trunks and grayish green leaves. They look pretty much like a fruited olive tree but there are no fruits that fall and make a mess of your backyard.
Although they are fruitless, it’s important to know that the flowers will still bud and small fruits will appear. These aren’t actually olives you’d want to eat even if you did process them as usual. Pick them and throw them away. So fruitless olive trees aren’t entirely fruitless. They are mostly fruitless. Unless you’re in the business of actually harvesting olives, you don’t want a fully fruited olive tree so go with the fruitless and learn to manage the occasional fruits you do see.
I mentioned backyard patios earlier but bear in mind that fruitless olive trees can become quite large so best not to plant them too near the house. They can grow to 30 feet and as they get larger, they will need some pruning. Additionally, fruitless olive trees come from hardy stock and can live for several hundred years. The oldest fruited olive tree has been happily living in Crete for over 4,000 years and still produces fruit. This ancient tree’s fruitless descendant that you are about to plant in your backyard probably won’t make it to it’s 4,000th birthday, but it will easily be there to provide shade for your great grandchildren. Keep this in mind when you are planning the best location.
Fruitless olive trees are drought tolerant and grow great in southwestern climates. They thrive when they get a good eight hours of sun each day and are susceptive to root rot in damp soil so well draining soil is what they prefer.
The 30 foot version I mentioned earlier isn’t your only option. Of course there now dwarf varieties that you can prune into topiary or bonzai forms. When cared for correctly, dwarf fruitless olive trees can make an attractive and resilient hedge.