Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Facts About Olive Tree Flowers

...
Olive image by Marco from Fotolia.com

Since ancient times, olives have been treasured for their savory fruits, which also produce oil valued for cooking and fuel. Before the formation of tasty, jet black fruits, however, olive trees develop flowers, from which olives form. The olive flower is distinct in its appearance, growth requirements and reproductive habits.

Function

Olives originate as flowers, and the flowers' chief purpose is to ensure the successful production of seeds. Olive flowers produce pollen containing male sex cells, while other flowers house female structures that, when fertilized, will develop into seeds, the hard pits found inside of olives. The edible part develops as a fleshy covering called the pericarp or fruit coat. After eating the fruit, animals excrete or discard the seeds, which germinate into new olive trees.

  • Since ancient times, olives have been treasured for their savory fruits, which also produce oil valued for cooking and fuel.
  • Olive flowers produce pollen containing male sex cells, while other flowers house female structures that, when fertilized, will develop into seeds, the hard pits found inside of olives.

Description

Olive tree flowers grow in large clusters on stems arising from the branches. The flowers are small, cream-colored and very fragrant. Although olive tree flowers may linger for months after first blossoming in April, they may not be obvious features of the tree because they are hidden by the tree's evergreen leaves.

Pollination

Olive trees contain two types of flowers: perfect and staminate. Staminate flowers contain only the pollen-producing male structures. Because they lack the female structures, staminate flowers are unable to produce fruit. Perfect flowers contain both male and female structures. Perfect flowers can self-pollinate or receive pollen from another flower or tree, and when pollinated, perfect flowers develop into olive fruits. Although bees and other insects do help to pollinate olive flowers, most pollen is carried by the wind, or perfect flowers self-pollinate, transferring pollen from the male structures onto neighboring female structures.

  • Olive tree flowers grow in large clusters on stems arising from the branches.
  • Because they lack the female structures, staminate flowers are unable to produce fruit.

Fruit

When a perfect olive flower is pollinated, a thin pollen tube extends into the base of the flower and releases sperm. At the base of the flower lies the ovary, containing a single egg cell. Once fertilized, a hard shell forms around the fertilized egg--the seed--and the olive fruit forms around it. Olive flowers produce drupes, fruits containing a single hard seed, similar to peaches.

Temperature

In order to produce flowers--and, therefore, fruit--olive trees require very specific temperature conditions. Olive trees are subtropical trees and cannot survive below-freezing temperatures. However, unlike many other fruit trees, olive trees do not produce flower buds in the autumn but require exposure to cooler winter temperatures at night, coupled with warm daytime temperatures. Olive trees will flower only when these specific requirements are met. Furthermore, olive trees will not flower before 5 years of age.

  • When a perfect olive flower is pollinated, a thin pollen tube extends into the base of the flower and releases sperm.
  • However, unlike many other fruit trees, olive trees do not produce flower buds in the autumn but require exposure to cooler winter temperatures at night, coupled with warm daytime temperatures.

Related Articles

How to Stop Olive Trees From Flowering
How to Stop Olive Trees From Flowering
Can I Grow an Olive Tree in Pennsylvania?
Can I Grow an Olive Tree in Pennsylvania?
Olive Tree Problems
Olive Tree Problems
How to Grow Olive Trees in Containers
How to Grow Olive Trees in Containers
How to Prune Sweet Olive Trees
How to Prune Sweet Olive Trees
Do Almonds Trees Do Well Where There Are Cold Winters?
Do Almonds Trees Do Well Where There Are Cold Winters?
Parts of the Gumamela Flower
Parts of the Gumamela Flower
How to Remove Bitterness From Banana Flowers
How to Remove Bitterness From Banana Flowers
When Do Pomegranate Trees Bloom?
When Do Pomegranate Trees Bloom?
Olive Tree Disease
Olive Tree Disease
How to Crossbreed Peppers
How to Crossbreed Peppers
What Is a Simple Flower?
What Is a Simple Flower?
When Does a Pecan Tree Bloom?
When Does a Pecan Tree Bloom?
Garden Guides
×