Characteristics of Black Olive Tree (Terminalia molinetii) in the Wild

Terminalia molinetii

Black olive (Terminalia molinetii) is a semi-deciduous tropical tree native to Florida.

Black olive is often grown as a bonsai and is also suitable as an ornamental plant due to its low growth with small dense leaves.

In English-speaking countries, Black olive is known by many names such as Ming tree, Spiny black olive, Dwarf geometry tree, and Spiny bucida.

Characteristics of Black Olive Leaf

Terminalia molinetii Leaf
Photo source: Jan Meerman

Small leaves, 0.6-2 cm long x 0.5 cm wide, shiny dark green above, light green below, young reddish leaves. The foliage appears in circles at the nodes, clustered at the ends of branches, and is semi-deciduous.

Characteristics of Black Olive Flower

Terminalia molinetii Flower
Photo source: Jan Meerman

The flowers are small, 0.5 cm long, creamy white, and clustered.

Characteristics of Black Olive Fruit

Terminalia molinetii Fruit
Photo source: Jan Meerman

The fruit is a small seed, 0.5 cm in size, clustered, ovoid, green when young, and brown when ripe.

Characteristics of Black Olive Tree

Terminalia molinetii Tree
Photo source: Adam Lloyd

Black olive has slow growth, it can grow to form a shrub or small tree with a maximum height of 7 meters.

The spines are stiff and appear along the stem and at the base of the leaves. The crown may be tiered when the plant is young but becomes oval to round, denser, and flatter as the tree ages. The crown is lace-like due to the horizontal zigzag branching pattern.

In the wild, Black olive grows in coastal forests, mangrove forests, and grasslands.

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