How to Prune a Wild Olive Tree


The wild olive tree (Cordia boissieri) is an evergreen that is native to North America. This species is almost extinct. Characteristics include velvety, silvery-green leaves, and trumpet-like white flowers throughout the year. Blossoms are present year-round only if there is sufficient rainfall. This tree is hardy in zones 9 to 11. A mature tree will reach heights of 15 to 20 feet, and a spread of 10 to 15 feet. The wild olive has a round crown. Reasons to prune are to remove diseased or damaged branches, to control size (specifically width) within your landscape design, and to provide clearance underneath the tree.

Step 1

Prune damaged or diseased branches as soon as possible, by making a clean diagonal cut at the site of the break. (Or, you may decide to remove the entire branch. This is a judgment call on your part.) Do not leave a stub. Clean cuts ensure that the wound will heal properly. Removal of damaged or diseased branches can be done year round.

Step 2

Remove branches to control the size (spread) of the specimen within your landscape design by cutting off the entire branch or heading back part of the branch. When removing the entire branch, locate the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk). Make your cut right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar, and do not leave a stub. Do not cut into the branch collar or the branch bark ridge; this must be maintained for the health of the tree. You can do this at any time during the year.

Step 3

Remove part of a branch by making your cut just in front of a lateral bud. This will limit the spread of the tree and it will also help to produce a denser tree. You can do this at any time during the year.

Step 4

Determine whether you need to cut off any lower branches to provide clearance underneath the tree. The lower branches of the wild olive tend to droop, and removing lower branches not only provides clearance under the tree but it allows for easier clean up underneath the tree. This can be done at any time during the year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never prune branches that are close to electrical wires; instead, call the electric company to do the pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw


  • University of Rhode Island: Green Share -- Pruning Evergreens
  • University of Minnesota Extension -- Agriculture: Pruning Trees and Shrubs
  • U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture: Cordia boissieri -- Wild Olive

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Cordia boissieri: Wild Olive
  • University of Florida Extension: Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: prune wild olive, remove cut cutting, evergreen extinct species

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational columns "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in Oconee Today, a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies." "From Death to Living in the Light" and "Spiritual Intelligence" will be released by Ezop has a BA degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.