University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #ENH340

Cordia boissieri: Texas Olive1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean2

Introduction

Texas olive is a native North American evergreen tree which reaches 20-feet in height with a 10- to 15-foot spread. This small tree is very rarely found and is even reportedly close to extinction. The silvery green leaves have a velvety texture and the showy, white flowers appear year-round, if enough rainfall or irrigation is available. Otherwise, the 3-inch-wide, trumpet-shaped, white blossoms with yellow throats will appear from late spring to early summer. The olive-like, white fruits that are produced have a sweet flesh relished by birds and other wildlife and, although edible to man, should not be eaten in quantities.

Figure 1. 

Full Form—Cordia boissieri: Texas olive


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Cordia boissieri

Pronunciation: KOR-dee-uh boy-see-AIR-ee

Common name(s): Texas Olive, Wild Olive, Anacahuita

Family: Boraginaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 9A through 11 (Figure 2)

Origin: native to the southern tip of Texas and northern Mexico

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: not assessed/incomplete assessment

Uses: sidewalk cutout (tree pit); parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100–200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft; tree lawn 3–4 feet wide; tree lawn 4–6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; street without sidewalk; deck or patio; container or planter; trained as a standard; specimen; highway median

Figure 2. 

Range


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 15 to 20 feet

Spread: 10 to 15 feet

Crown uniformity: symmetrical

Crown shape: round

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: slow

Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: ovate

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: broadleaf evergreen, evergreen

Leaf blade length: 5 inches

Leaf color: gray green on top, silvery underneath

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Leaf—Cordia boissieri: Texas olive


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: white with a yellow throat

Flower characteristics: very showy; trumpet-shaped; emerges in clusters at branch tips

Flowering: late spring to early summer

Figure 4. 

Flower—Cordia boissieri: Texas olive


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Fruit

Fruit shape: round

Fruit length: ½ to 1 inch

Fruit covering: fleshy drupe

Fruit color: greenish-yellow

Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; no thorns

Bark: gray or light brown, deeply fissured, and shredding

Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: brown

Current year twig thickness: medium

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 5. 

Bark—Cordia boissieri: Texas olive


Credit:

Gritta Hasing


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Culture

Light requirement: full sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate

Other

Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown

Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

This is a versatile plant adapted for use as a specimen tree or as an accent in a shrub border. Showy, year-round flowers make it suitable for placing in a lawn area as a free-standing specimen. It can be planted in an above-ground container and kept looking nice for a number of years when it is carefully maintained.

Texas olive should be grown in full sun or partial shade on well-drained soils and is highly drought-tolerant. Although hardy to about 20°F, Texas olive will lose its leaves in a severe frost. This is the cold-hardy relative of Cordia sebestena that is very sensitive to the cold.

Propagation is by seeds and air-layering.

Pests

No pests are of major concern.

Diseases

No diseases are of major concern.

References

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH340, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.