Notice: Atrium is currently undergoing maintenance. During this time, some or all images may not be displayed.

Family: Oleaceae

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Family Parent: Scrophulariales Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • OLIVE FAMILY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Family Recognition in the Field: Shrubs or trees (1 species nearly herbaceous) with opposite, simple or compound leaves; calyces and corollas (if present) usually 4-merous; stamens usually 2 or 4, epipetalous; ovary superior.

Diagnosis: Perennial shrubs or trees (nearly herbaceous in Menodora); leaves opposite, simple or com- pound, entire, toothed or lobed; stipules none; flowers axillary, lateral, or terminal, perfect or unisexual, with or without perianth; calyces and corollas, when present, synsepalous and sym- petalous, each 4-lobed (except 10–14 calyx lobes and 5–6 corolla lobes in Menodora); stamens usually 2 or 4; pistil 1, 2-locular; ovary superior; fruit a drupe, capsule, or samara.


Notes: A medium-sized (615 species in 24 genera), nearly cosmopolitan, but especially Asian family of mostly trees and shrubs including timber trees and the economically important Olea europaea L. (OLIVE); OLIVE has been in cultivation north of the Dead Sea for its oil and drupes since at least 3700–3600 BC; the foliage was an ancient sign of good will—the olive branch. The family also includes a number of ornamentals including some commonly cultivated in nc TX such as Forsythia (GOLDENBELLS) species (shrubs with yellow flowers in early spring) and Syringa (LILAC) species. Family name from the genus Olea, a genus of 20 species of evergreen trees and shrubs of the Old Word tropics and warm temperate regions. (Greek: elaia , olive) (subclass Asteridae)