Thursday, June 16, 2011

Small-fruited Mock Olive

Notelaea microcarpa

The mock-olives are fruiting heavily this year. I photographed this one in Rosenthal Scrub in Warwick last weekend.

It is a common plant on the Darling Downs, growing naturally on rocky ridges, where it is typically 3 or 4 metres high.
The species adapts well to all kinds of soils, and is a useful little drought and frost hardy tree for use in gardens. If pruned, it tends to sucker from the base, demonstrating that it would be happy to be made into a hedge. Left alone, it grows into a crooked little tree, often multi-trunked, and with a shady, rounded canopy. It has the capacity to be as picturesque as an old Mediterranean olive tree. Our local is related to the edible olive, but I have never heard that people eat these little fruits. They are popular with birds, however.
Its name tells its story. The second half of its generic name, “elaea” is Greek for “olive”. The first bit comes from “notos” meaning “south”. “Micro” means “small”, and “carpa” refers to its fruit.

Note the raised veins on the upper surface of the leaf, a characteristic which distinguishes it from the other Notelaea species which grow on the Downs.
(Double click on the photo for a close look.)


Alain said...

We live outside Warwick, up in the rocky hills and we have a lot of the Mock olive trees , one in particular fruiting very heavily.
Can the tree be grown from seed?
Thank you for the very useful information on your blog.

Patricia Gardner said...

Hi Alain,
Yes, the tree should be easy to propagate from seed, provided you use very fresh seed. The seed in the photos on this blog is looking a little bit dry but would probably have grown. Better still, pick it when it is soft and looks like a bird would find completely yummy.
You should give at a soak for an hour or so in warm water to kill and grubs or insect seeds, and squish it between your fingers to clean the flesh off the seeds.