Floridata Article

Scrub Olive (Osmanthus megacarpa)

Scrub Olive

Scrub olive occurs in scrubs, sand pine forests and dry hammocks throughout central Florida. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree up to 12' high with shiny green, 3-5" opposite leaves. The flowers are inconspicuous but pleasantly fragrant, like the related tea olive (O. fragrans). The fruits are much larger (over an inch in diameter) than the widespread wild olive or devilwood (O. americana) of the southeastern United States. (It is typical for scrub plants to have larger, but fewer, fruits than their non-scrub relatives.) Our olives are in the same family (Oleaceae) as the true olive (Olea europaea) of the Mediterranean region, but for some reason ours haven't been cultivated for food. You can grow your own scrub olives with plants from several native nurseries in central Florida. Put them in full sun in light, sandy soil. Once established, you won't need to water them.

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