60302Those of us who appreciate olive trees for their fruit production or distinctively gnarly trunks probably would not understand the popularity of the Little Ollie olive, Olea europaea ‘Little Ollie’. Not only is is completely fruitless, but it lacks sculptural trunks and limbs. It is instead a short and and shrubby plant that gets only about three or four feet tall, with very dense grayish green foliage. Only the narrow evergreen leaves are recognizable as those of an olive tree.

Little Ollie olive behaves something like boxwood, and does not grow much faster. It can even be shorn as a hedge or topiary. It is quite resilient to heat and harsh exposure, and once established, it does not need much water. Because it is so compact, and has such resilient roots, it is popularly grown in large urns or planters. The grayish foliage is a nice backdrop for more colorful annuals and flowering perennials.

13 thoughts on “‘Little Ollie’ Olive

    1. The old fruiting olive trees were the more sculptural of the old orchard trees that once lived in the Santa Clara Valley. There are still some in home gardens, where those who live with them dislike the fruit.

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      1. I have lived her for decades now, always having a olive tree in my yard somewhere. The sculptural beauty of their branches and color of the bark….so exquisite. I do have the tree sprayed so it doesn’t produce olives. I have them trimmed like pom poms!

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      2. Oh my! The poodle do! Brent refers to that at the ‘dago do’, but most of my people do not prune them harshly enough to inhibit fruit production. I think that is done by those who grew the trees for production for many years, and then pruned them for less fruit as they got older . . . and of course, we know who grows the most olive trees.

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    1. That seems to be the consensus. Being of Italian descent, I believe that a fruitless olive tree is a waste of space.. I think of ‘Little Ollie’ as more of a shrub with gray foliage that makes a nice hedge or screen.

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    1. It is appealing as gray shrubbery. I know it makes great hedges and is very resilient, just like a real olive tree. I am just not so keen on it because I would want it to make olives. A small fruiting olive tree that makes just enough olives would be excellent. The fruiting trees that I prefer get so big eventually.


  1. Is it really called little Ollie? I love olive trees and here they flower and begin to fruit in hot summers but never have enough heat or time to ripen. Still love the foliage so I have three in raised beds.

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    1. Oh yes; it really is ‘Little Ollie’. I do not like to think of it as an olive tree, just because I expect olive trees to make . . . well . . . . olives. To me, it is more like a tough hedge shrub with pleasantly gray foliage.

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