Black Olive - Bucida sp.
General information: Though
commonly called 'black olive tree', thisnative of the
upper Florida Keys (some consider it native, others
donot) is not the edible olive we know and love, but
does produce a small, black seed-capsule. Black olive is
a 40 to 50-foot-tall
evergreen tree with a smooth trunk holding up strong,
wind-resistant branches, forming a pyramidal shape when
young but developing a very dense, full, oval to rounded
crown with age. Sometimes the top of the crown will
flatten with age, and the tree grows horizontally. The
lush, dark bluish-green, leathery leaves are two to four
inches long and clustered at branch tips, sometimes
mixed with the 0.5 to
1.5-inch-long spines found along the branches.
Lighting: Full sun - its
natural environment is the hottest parts of
Florida and the Caribbean.
Temperature: Grows well in
zones 10B through 11. Do not expose to
freezing weather or better yet, temperatures below 40
tender plant which has been grown successfully as an
Watering: Likes to be
well-watered and should not be permitted to stay dry.
Feeding: Likes frequent
fertilization which promotes vigorous growth.
Pruning and wiring: New
shoots need to be shortened only by a little.
It is best to pinch them back. In nature, the Bucida is
windswept, which makes this an excellent choice for
bonsai style. The
plant's natural growth makes it ideal for bonsai. It
at every internode, making a bend of 25 to 35 degrees,
which can be
incorporated into the styling.
Propagation: From cuttings,
as seeds are difficult to germinate. To
propagate from cuttings, hard wood won't work, even
under a mist
system. Soft wood ones will, but one rarely gets a soft
longer than 2 inches.
Propagation from seed. The tiny flower progresses to
green seeds, then
tan and then brown in about 2 months. Gather the seeds
as soon as they
fall, for they are more vital and willing to germinate
in the first
ten days after they ripen. Seeds should be planted in
pots in a well drained mixture of vermiculite, peat and
allowed 25 to 35 days for germination. Be patient, for
they grow very
slowly. When they are 2 inches tall, transplant them
community pot to individual pots. Cover each pot with a
for 5 days and put in the shade. Keep in the shade for 3
to 4 weeks,
being careful to keep them moist, but watch for and
mildew. Once they are growing well, if you wish to force
them to grow
faster and taller than their usual 2 inches a year, bend
branches lower than the growing tip.
Repotting: Repot in
late winter, pruning roots only moderately. Use a fast
soil with a high sand and lime content.
Pests and diseases: No
pests or diseases are of major concern but
occasionally bothered by sooty mold and bark borer.
cause galls but no control is needed.