The Mexican olive tree (Cordia boissieri), also known as a wild olive or Texas olive tree, grows near water sources on the plains of southern Texas in the lower Rio Grande Valley. The tree also grows in Mexico. The native tree appears close to extinction in the wild, according to the University of Florida's website, although it grows in gardens and landscapes in the south. Mexican olive trees often produce showy blossoms year-round, giving the landscape color when other plants fade.
A native evergreen tree, Mexican olive trees reach up to 20 feet in height, spreading up to 15 feet. The tree sports silvery green leaves that feel velvety to the touch. Showy trumpet-shaped white flowers with yellow throats up to 2 inches across bloom year-round if rainfall falls consistently or the tree receives regular watering. Otherwise, blossoms appear anywhere from late winter to early summer. After the flowers fade, white fruits resembling olives appear on the tree, maturing into edible purple fruits.
Mexican olive trees feature high drought-tolerance and frost-resistance, making them a great choice for the garden. While the tree can handle temperatures just below freezing, consider planting it close to a building so the tree retains more heat on cold days. Transplants from the nursery grow well when planted in well-drained soil in full sun. Water the tree regularly until it gets established. Consider regular watering year-round to encourage the tree to bloom all year.
The tree requires pruning to develop a strong structure, especially if just one trunk is desired since the tree tends to grow several trunks. Pruning the canopy also provides a clearance for cars or people to walk under the tree, particularly important if planted along a street, sidewalk or garden walkway. The tree attracts almost no pests and experiences little disease, making it ideal for worry-free growing.
Mexican olive trees grow well in large containers, making them ideal for patios, pools or decks where the beautiful white blooms add beauty and interest. The tree also looks beautiful when planted as a specimen in lawns or gardens or along streets, near parking lots or in median strips. In Mexico, the leaves of the tree get used as a medicine to treat arthritis and common colds.
Butterflies flock to sip the nectar produced by the clusters of blossoms. Hummingbirds also find the tubular-shaped flowers an ideal food source, sometimes fighting with each other to keep the entire tree as their own territory. The little fruits from the Mexican olive tree provide a good food source for birds, squirrels and other small mammals. Deer and cattle also eat the fruits and the leaves of the tree.
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