In South Texas and Northeastern Mexico where much of the native flora is thorny and scratchy anything lush and tropical attracts attention, especially in the middle of a hot and dry summer when little feels lush. Now just imagine a lush tropical shrub covered with clusters of crepe-textured, white tubular flowers marked with a yellow throat growing amongst its thorny scrubby neighbors. It is sure to stand out and draw attention from humans and butterflies alike.
The white, crepe-textured flowers are produced in abundance during the summer months with fruit ripening in the fall. Specifically, this member of the Borage family has large, oval, dark-green, leaves that when young are soft and fealty to the touch but coarsens in texture with age. This plant makes a small tree to medium sized multi-trunked shrub in subtropical zones but typically survives as a root hardy perennial where frosts are common in the lower south. Mexican Olive gets its common name because the fruits resemble the fruit of a true olive but they not related!
Tips: Can be successfully grown in zone 8b as a root hardy perennial with protection. Once established this plant is very drought tolerant and should be grown hard. Excessive irrigation and fertilization can result in exuberant, brittle growth that is susceptible to wind damage.
Notes and observations about this plant
- Wild Olive by Carolyn
- This is a beautiful and much beloved native tree in South Texas. It thrives with little to no attention and forms a lovely domed canopy covered in the spring in delicate, white flowers. In my home town you see them in many yards. Everyone in South Texas knows this tree as the Wild Olive. (Posted on 5/24/13)