Forestiera pubescens Nutt.

Desert Olive
Oleaceae (Olive Family)


Desert olive is a large, glabrous, deciduous shrub reaching some 10' in height with smooth, grayish bark and short spine-like branchlets. The opposite leaves are entire to serrulate-margined, elliptic-lanceolate, 3/8" to 2" long and often fascicled. Desert olive is a dioecious species with the staminate and pistillate flowers on separate plants.  The flowers generally appear in axillary clusters before the leaves develop, the staminate inflorescences sessile or subsessile and the pistillate inflorescences short-petioled. The staminate flowers have 1-4 stamens 1/8" to 1/4" long and a vestigial pistil.  Pistillate flowers have a 1-2-lobed stigma.  The fruit is a blue-black ellipsoid drupe, glaucous and a little more than 1/4" in length.  Desert olive is occasionally found on dry slopes, canyons and ridges to about 6000', mostly in creosote bush scrub, chaparral, coastal sage scrub and foothill woodland across interior cismontane Southern California to the Mojave Desert and bordering ranges, blooming in March and April.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Forestiera 2) pubescens.
Pronunciation: for-es-tee-ER-a pew-BES-ens.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.