Olive Tree Cultivar ID?

Boy, I don’t know if it’s possible to come up with the cultivar of this olive tree or not. It came with the house. If my memory serves me correctly, the previous homeowner tried to tell me it was a non-fruiting variety, but it fruits, and I’d love to try to come up with the cultivar, if possible. Here are 3 photos:

As you can see, it is a big tree. Probably 25-30’ tall. About 13 years old. The fruits are very pointed. Sort of like Kalamata, but I can’t imagine that’s the cultivar. It’s not Mission or Manzanilla - both very popular cultivars in my area. Could be Cerignola or Picholine, but neither of those are easy cultivars to find around here. Don’t think it is Sevillano either, just too pointed. Possibly Koroneiki? DWN sells that, so trying to check out the obvious suspects, first. Anyone other there good with olive cultivars, or can point me in the direction of someone who would be an expert? Love to know what I’ve got. Hoping I can collect olives this year. Tree is pretty full of fruit, we were very surprised. It is fruited before, but this year has just been a banner year for fruit all the way around.

Patty S.

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Definitely not Sevillano. I wouldn’t rule out Picholine though maybe not curved enough? There are so many pointy cultivars like that out there. Kalamata has extra large leaves. Hard to tell for sure the size in the picture, but I’d say probably not. Olives can be hard to identify.

check here maybe. Also, try googling picholine and then hit the images tab to look through pictures. olivodb

Thanks, Skill. Servillano, Mission and Manzanilla are probably the 3 most popularly sold olive trees in my area. But, the previous home owners were kind of gardening nuts, and I wouldn’t put it past them to seek out a special cultivar. After reading through a bunch of possibilities, I’m leaning towards Koroneiki, since it is pointed, and the leaf description matches my tree pretty well.

Patty S.

I’m going to agree that the fruit shape and size look like Koroneiki. I’m thinking of planting one on my lot. Don’t you wish everything was as easy and attractive as olives?

The shape of the olive looks right for Koroneiki, but I think the leaves are too long and narrow. Check out the figures from this Journal article — Koroneiki’s leaves are shorter and fatter.

From the Italian Database provided by Skillcult, and estimating that the first joint on your middle finger is about 2.75 - 3 cm, the leaves of your tree above the typical length range for Koroneiki — 5-7 cm. Get out your ruler and measure a few — This would lead me to think you have Kalamata, which has leaves >7cm in length.

Odd that the previous owners thought it was a fruitless variety. They’d be hard to miss. The fruits would fall all over the sidewalk.

photo of flowering of one of my olive trees in May:

It is Picual variety, also called marteña and think it’s the variety that you call Seville.

I do not consider myself an expert in olive cultivation, but I have some experience based on more than 10 courses on olive grove, more than 40 years cultivating olive trees and over the years I have learned what I teach my father and my grandfather on the olive tree, today I cultivate about 10,000 olive trees in the area where the best olive and oils in the world .

first we need to know is whether your olive tree is self-fertile or not, I need to know if spring flowers much or little (it is also important to know if there are more olive trees in your area to ensure proper pollination), the olive tree is not pollinated by bees if not through the air and its pollen can travel many kilometers increasing its power pollinated.

in principle, its leaves look healthy, but you have a problem with pruning your olive tree, you have to reduce the tree so that the sun and the air from inside, this must be done in February ( I’m going and I are hoping to go to the gym this afternoon will show you where you should prune your olive)


I cannot be completely sure, but I would agree with @matrix that most probably this is Picual. This is absolutely certainly not Kalamata neither Koroneiki.

I think so, too. And yes, my olive trees are literally the easiest thing I grow. Most of them aren’t even on drip. Love them to pieces. I must have 30 olive trees at least on my property.

Thanks for the photo, Matrix. Your fruit on your tree is pretty pointed, very similar to mine. Seville is a very popular cultivar here. I would have no idea if the tree is self-fertile as I have at least 30 olive trees, different cultivars on my property. It flowered pretty heavily this year. Which is actually what first caught my attention. I remember thinking to myself, “Gee, I don’t remember this olive tree having so many flowers.” A lot more flowering of all my olive trees this year, in fact. I think due to ideal weather, decent amount of spring rains, and my sprinkler system being fixed when I didn’t realize it was slowly having failure issues due to a faulty check valve in my booster pump/bladder tank system, so therefore, more water.

And yes, we didn’t prune early (or late) enough last year. Normally we open it way up, and take it down. It looks terrible right now, so I apologize for that.

Stan, thank you for the confirmation. The photos of Seville fruit I found online didn’t show fruit with pointed ends. Picunal photos I could find looked to be a little further along, and more round.

I never saw Picual being called Seville, all English-language sources call it just that — Picual. There are varieties Sevillano (popular in California) and Lechin de Sevilla, but both are distinct from Picual.

Most photos online show olives in a more mature stage than yours, so it’s not easy to compare, but, for example, Picual photo on this page is pretty similar to yours. Also, a very useful photo comparing sizes and shapes of different olive varieties is on this page (scroll down towards the bottom of the page).

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Thanks, Stan. I think it is Picual. DWN carries Picual, and many/most of the retail garden centers and nurseries stock DWN trees, so that would be a logical cultivar. Matrix’s early fruit photos look a lot like my fruit. Leaves on my tree look pretty much the same as Matrix’s Picunal as well. My olive tree gets a fair amount of shade the first 1/2 of the day, then a fair amount of sun the last half (on the W SW side of my garage). So, now to figure out when the olives ripen, so I can try to harvest them. After harvest, we’ll prune the tree down and open it up. It’s nice, though, to have it so large, because it provides some very nice and welcome shade to my garage.

Here is some info I collected about Picual from various sources (hence some differences in descriptions):

Picual olives are the most commonly grown olive today for olive oil production, with production centered in the Spanish province of Jaén. Picual trees are estimated to account for 25% of all olive oil production in the world. Picual is the most important variety in Spain, accounting for more than 1,700,000 acres. The major zones are as follows (1984): Jaen = 422,000 ha (90% of total olive orchards), Cordoba = 108,000 ha, Granada = 50,000 ha. In 1995, Picual plantings took up 55% of new orchards in Spain.

Picual is a tree of medium vigor and a spreading growth habit. It is cold tolerant and highly adaptable. It is considered tolerant of salinity and excess soil moisture, but sensitive to drought and calcareous soils. Picual is a medium vigour tree with a spreading and dense canopy. It comes into production early. The Spanish regions in which Picual is most common have cool to cold winters and hot dry summers. A vigorous plant with an expansive crown. This variety has an open shape and branches in a square rectangular pattern. The small branches have leaves at close spacing that are elliptical-lanceolate in shape and of a brilliant green color.

An early producer with high constant yields. The tree has a good resistance to the cold, to bacteria and to damp soils. A rustic cultivar that adapts to diverse environmental conditions. It reacts well to regenerative pruning because of its capacity to sprout new growth. Picual is resistant to olive knot. It is, however, susceptible to leaf spot and verticillium wilt. Picual is susceptible to peacock spot, olive fly and olive moth. It is resistant to olive knot.

Picual is highly rated for its early start to bearing and its high productivity. The fruit has low attachment making it suitable for mechanical harvesting. It is tolerant of cold, salinity and excess soil moisture. Picual is a hardy variety and adapts well to different climates and soil conditions. It is sensitive to verticillium wilt and peacock spot.

Picual has very high oil content, at 20-27% by weight. Virgin olive oil from Picual olives has high levels of polyphenols, typically between 300 and 700 ppm.

This variety has a high, constant production of very stable oil. Picual has a very distinctive varietal flavor which is famously “catty” when it is overripe. When harvested at the proper maturity and processed with speed and care, Picual yields a superb quality oil. A distinctly tomato leaf note with rich dark undertones characterizes the variety. Picual oil has a very high polyphenol and oleic acid content. It is an excellent addition to blends where better shelf life and a more complex flavor profile are desired.

Fruit shape is oval and curved with a nipple on the end. Both oil content and yield are high. The fruit ripens mid to late season. During the first years, fruits tend to be larger than normal and they are highly rated for pickling as black olives for the firmness of their flesh. The oil yield of Picual is high, although it is known to be variable in the first years. The oil is of good quality with a very particular character and extraordinarily high stability. Picual oil is often blended with other oils that have low stability.

Picual has a very low attachment force which makes it easy to harvest. It is ideally suited to trunk or canopy shakers. It ripens early, making it a good choice for areas with danger of early frost.

Both the fruit and the pit are pointed in shape. Fruit weigh from 2-4 grams and a flesh-to-pit ratio between 3.8:1 and 6:1. Its high oil content in Jaen ranges from 23% to 28% and slightly lower in other regions. When fully ripe, the skin is shiny black and the flesh turns from a light brown to wine pink colour. Picual oil also has a very high polyphenolic content which gives it a long shelf life. This fact, along with other quality aspects, makes it very popular variety for blending with other oils from around the Mediterranean.

An oil cultivar of a very high yield (23-28%). The fruit of medium size (2-4 grams) is elliptical in shape with a pointed oblique tip. Maturation is early (November-December). The drupes picked black furnish an oil that is considered to be of very good quality in Spain.

Self fertile with a marked percentage of ovarian abortion. Pollinators: Manzanilla, Uovo di Piccione, Gordal Sevillana. || Picual is self-compatible, and a good pollinator for a number of other varieties. || Partially self fertile || Self-fertile, but produces higher yields when paired with a pollenizer such as Manzanillo.

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not if your olive is picual, the truth is that I am very bad identifying olives, later in November when the olives this close to mature if I could identify it, it is now very difficult, almost all the olives seem small and all the Leafs.

the olive patty looks pretty good, nothing to do with some olive trees I see on the internet that barely have leaves and have poor pruning, even so, you should prune as follows:

1ºcut in February or March this branch red.
(Cut only the large branch and if there are small branches around not cutting them will protect the tree against the summer sun), to cut this branch we allow between the sun and the Asire into his olive tree, which it is very important to have a good fruit set and at the same time the tree will have less problems fungi).

2ºYou should not cut anything green area, that area is where you will have 80% of the fruits.

3ºif you do not prune the green area in the coming years the olive tree will have the longest branches and will occupy the blue zone, thus increasing its production area of olives, all that is right and good, sometimes branches olives come to touch the ground (should only remove the lower branches if you are bothered branches to grow other things)

other than perhaps their olives picual variety, Picual is a self-fertile variety, one must produce olive tree, you say that olive trees throw a lot of flower, then you have a problem pollinated surely you have 30 olive trees of the variety ??? ??? which is not self-pollinating and olive trees are not pollinating.
probably you have to remove an olive tree and put a pollinator or grafted an olive tree in a pollinating variety.
According to my calculations, california has a month ahead of southern Spain, in my city olives open flower on May 15, imagine that your trees aben flower between 15 and 30 April if my calculations are correct in those days you can do 2 things:

1st look in his city an olive tree that this also flourishing, ask permission from the owner and cut a branch, then you can tap this branch against a branch of the olive tree to release the pollen and months later we will see if the olive has better production than the rest of their olive trees

2nd you can also go on those dates to a nearby nursery home and buy an olive tree and plant it in this case never buy the olive tree online, go you to buy it directly to the nearest home nursery and buy an olive tree this in bloom at the same time that their olive trees are in bloom, so under similar conditions, we ensure that all the olive trees to flourish ban on the same dates

and little else I can say, its olive looks well cared for and was not note nutrient deficiencies, simply prune their trees every 2 years (one year yes and one year no),paid in February each tree with 2 or 3 kilos of fertilizer 15-15-15 (15% nitrogen, 15% phosphorous and 15% potassium) and in spring and autumn treat with copper to prevent leaf spot (if you want to take some insecticide dimethoate 40% is the most used in the olive grove, covers almost all insects that attack the olive tree).

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if you want to know about a variety of olive, you can search the web, where they have 1741 varieties distributed by country.
Variedades de Olivo del Resto del Mundo.
Variedades de Olivo de España

the olive is called Seville or Picual:

or is the variety gordal:

now I’m thinking that maybe olive trees patty are the gordal variety (gordal comes from fat, big), this variety gives the largest olives in the world about 12 or 13 grams in size due to its size, it is a variety very sold in nurseries and highly sought after by fans … but it really is a very bad choice, is a variety with large fruit but his skin is very hard and it is pretty bad to eat, is a variety that is not self-fertile and is very difficult to pollinate and produces very few olives, all this makes me think that maybe this is the variety of patty (that we will know I fall seeing the size of olives patty, gordal variety gives the olives of a similar size to a walnut).
this variety also produces many “zofairones” which are small olives that have not been pollinated:

for me the best varieties in the world and I recommend planting are these:

1ºpicual, my favorite for several reasons, is self-fertile, is very productive, has good size, is disease resistant and is very versatile serves both to eat their olives to produce oil, its fruit is of high quality.

2ºthis variety do not think the find is the nursery, I still want to show it, its fruit is simply stunning, it is the best table olives, the best olive eating, there is no variety in the world that can bring quality this variety, its flavor is different from other varieties and if I have to rate this range of 1 to 10 I give it a punctuation of 15, is simply stunning.
This variety is very hard to find in nurseries, because it has a small problem is that their olives last for a very short time thrown in brine, about 2 months and then get soft, due to this circumstance its fruits are not marketed or you soft fruits would eat … but it is different when you have a tree for own consumption, I just can eat these olives in September and October (after they get mushy), but is a real pleasure to eat them in those 2 months (other varieties can hold up to 1 year)

3ºascolana or ascolana ternera,this variety is Italian and the fruit is not very good for oil, but it’s very good to eat olives, its fruit is very large, if the variety “gordal” weighs about 12 grams, the Ascalon weighs about 10 grams, but the tree it is more productive and its fruit is very good to eat high quality

4ºif you have verticillium in their field, they must plant a variety resistant to this fungus, I recommend these two varieties:

I have these two varieties as collecting, hobby:
variety zarza, its fruits are not round, but make a star

variety leucocarpa,this variety has a problem in the pigmentation of your skin and when the fruit is not ripe black sets, if not white
Variedad de planta de olivo LEUCOCARPA ITALIANA
these two do not add anything interesting varieties are normal varieties and discrete taste just have them by collecting, by having something different

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Thanks, Matrix. I do plan on removing that tall branch in the middle - drop crotch prune - to remove that tall growth and open up the canopy. I’ll leave the rest of the canopy alone, it is actually well pruned except this (didn’t prune last year). It is a very healthy tree, but the reason I don’t have a lot of olives on any of my trees is water restrictions. Olives won’t set well if they don’t get enough water. They don’t need a lot, but my olive trees for the most part get very little water. Some are not on drips at all. Where I live, I get rain only one time a year, just about. Our rainy season is from about November through March/April. Then, we’re pretty much no rain for the rest of the year, with the exception of a very rare thunderstorm in the summer from the monsoon weather we can get coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. But, that only happens once in a blue moon :slight_smile: If I increase my water to my trees, I’ll get plenty of fruit set, I’m not too worried about that. I actually never really considered promoting fruit set with my olives. They’re here in my yard mainly for their very lovely ornamental characteristics. Here in S. California, you’ll olive trees everywhere, they are very, very popular landscape trees because they require almost zero care and look gorgeous. When I’m back down on Sycamore Street as a passenger, I’ll try to snap a picture of the beautiful olive trees (I know, the street is named, “Sycamore”, and there are no Sycamore trees growing on the street anywhere), that grow in the boulevard, they are so beautiful. Typical of our area here in San Diego county - lots of commercial landscaping with olive trees. I have at the least, 6 different olive cultivars on my property, so plenty of options for cross pollination, and if this is Picual, and it’s self-fertile, then really there should be no need for a cross-pollinator. I’m going to try to harvest the olives from at least this tree this year, and brine them or cure them. I got motivated to do that after hearing several of our list members who have done so, and going to give it a whirl this year. Just need to know whether to use brine or lye for these olives, and looking for very detailed instructions. I downloaded a leaflet from UC ANR Publication #8267, “Olives: Safe Methods for Home PIckling” leaflet, and a couple of other instructions, so hopefully, they’ll be enough. Just want to make sure I use the best method for the type of olive I have, hence why I was trying to ID the cultivar. I’ll post more photos of the fruit as they mature. Which will make it much easier to ID the cultivar for sure. Appreciate your very detailed explanation, Matrix.

Matrix, if I may ask, is your first language Spanish? If so, I speak Spanish (not as well as I’d like, but decently). If you want to reply in both Spanish and English, that would be wonderful. Great practice for me, and a great way for both of us to improve our respective second languages. You clearly speak English better than I can speak Spanish, but that would be fun, I think!

Muchisimas Gracias, Patty S.

Thank you, Matrix, very interesting information! I have a favorite table olive as well, Nocellara del Belice. It’s a cultivar native to Sicily, and grows in a climate and altitude almost identical to mine. The first time I had this olive (the olive is called, ‘Castelveltrano’ when marketed, but comes from the NdB olive tree. I about died and went to olive-eating heaven after tasting these. So, had to find this cultivar and plant it, and then get educated on how to brine this cultivar, since it’s done differently than other table olives. The trees are still babies right now (plus the Pendolino planted in between), but I am very, very excited about this cultivar. They are growing nicely, and hope to have a few olives in about 2 years.

For my lovely unknown cultivar - the previous homeowners planted it, and although they fancied themselves gardeners, they probably wouldn’t have gone out of their way to get an unusual cultivar. So, I think it probably is one of the more common olive trees you can buy at our local garden centers. Most of those garden centers buy their fruit trees from DWN, and DWN does grow Picual, along with several other cultivars:


These are the likely suspects. So, based on photos I can find of the canopy, leaves and fruit, still thinking it’s Picual.

Patty S.

Glad you were able to find NdB!

I spoke to an olive grower at the Pasadena farmer’s market, and he said his crew keeps their ‘Mission’ and other normally large trees in BYOC fashion. No ladders etc, and they have been at it for many years. So there is hope for us So Cal backyard olive growers to keep any of these varieties in check.

My ‘Arbosana’ and ‘Arbequina’ have been easy as BYOC and trouble free thus far. I may have a spot for a ‘Koroneiki’ as well next planting season.

Here’s ‘Arbosana’ sizing up a bit:


good afternoon patty if my language is Spanish, but we will speak better English as the official language of the forum is English.

concerning its olive say that if you have 6 varieties of olives you will not have problems with pollination because the pollen olive weighs very little and can move many kilometers away.

concerning the water it needs an olive tree, saying that an olive tree can live perfectly without water, it is only necessary to water the first summer planting, that if to have a would need acceptable harvest about 600 or 800 liters of water per year, if a year only rains 400 liters would be good that we regasemos our tree providing 200 liters remaining (in September, for example is a good time to water and fruit fattening).

concerning the preparation of table olives with a pickle, there are 2 methods to remove the bitter olive:
1, the first method is using lye as you say, in particular caustic soda is used, this method is the most commercial and are using chemicals and also have olives worst taste, so for now I will not explain (unless you want to know what).

2nd second method is the most used at an individual level and olives taste better.

A-we must first know when pick our olives from the tree, I recommend not pick all the olives the same day, best cojerlas 3 times so our olives will be much better and we can eat them during more months, we can grab the olives in these 3 phenological stages:

  • Green olives, these olives can grab from mid-September to mid-October, as you know when you can grab? Easy, just take an olive and mash with a stone, if the meat is separated from the bone and its olives are ready to be collected, if the meat is not separated from bone wait a little more and repeat the process.

-in veraison, when the olives are changing color, this time we have in the tree green olives, half black olives and half green and black olives…in this state is like me personally but I like, for example, we can grab 25% green, 50% green-black and 25% black in this state are more or less from October 15 to November 15.

-the other option is to pick them totally black from November 15 to November 30, we must not exceed much those dates or olives longer have oil and they will be very soft and would not last long in brine.

In short, if we recojerlas at one time we can do it in any of the states described (I advise the second) and if we can pick them up gradually since the ideal is to catch them in 3 ways, so we can eat more fresh.

B-once we have collected our olives we introduce them in a bucket with water and then have to mash with a wooden mallet and deposited in another bucket with water, this is done to break and you can remove the bitterness inside, deck must be wood, never use a hammer or a sledgehammer or excessively break the olives, so used wood that absorbs a little (deck can manufacture it ourselves or we can buy a wooden mallet carpenter)

if you are skilled with wood can be manufactured this appliance has dual use, this device is placed over the bucket with water and can pass the olives for their holes inside the holes there are blades that cut the olives and the other end temos a deck that we activate it as a hinge to crush the olives (the same system crack a nut against a door hinge)

C-However, once we have crushed our olives and have them in a bucket with water tap remove the bitterness, this is easy, you have to remove the water every 24 hours and add new water, my mother (84 years) accelerates the process changing water 2 times a day instead of once, so if we want to be ready before we remove the water and add fresh water every 12 hours (the water we remove this bitter and so you have to change the water every our olives days or lists shall not).
how many days you have to repeat the process? it depends on how they were ripe olives, usually with 8 days should be enough (my mother change the water 2 times a day and 4 or 5 days are ok to eat) … … to see if our olives are ready to eat we catch one and we eat it, if this sweet and if it already has even bitter and woody flavor we leave them in water a few days more

D-once our olives are sweet and salt lack throw them to not put soft, in my country there is a fine salt and coarse salt, if there is equal use coarse salt … . how much salt to add? it depends on the quantity of olives there, can not say exactly echo handfuls hand and ready, but their containers will have a different volume so that you, as a reference means that there are people who hits a raw egg must calculate and cascara in the water and add salt until the egg rubbed into the water, then it has the right salt.

E-dressing well when we add salt, we must also add spices that will give you a good taste of our olives, here is very difficult to agree, everyone has their tastes.
me, I do not particularly like to add many spices olives or will disappear much the flavor of the olive, I with salt add a little thyme, a little fennel few bay leaves and a few cloves of garlic and It is done.

You can add more spices or can test which we like more, for example, can add a little vinegar, a lemon peel, orange peel, orange or lemon slices.

I recommend the first year they put the olives in several boats and add different spices and decide which you like more.

this would be the final result:


MrClint,I know very well your 2 varieties of olives, these two varieties are varieties for oil to eat them stay a little small.

arbosana and Alberquina are two varieties very planted in Spain for oil production, these varieties do not grow much and planted as a hedge to harvest them mechanically

Arbequina produces the best oil in the world and worth more money, but has a problem that variety, the oil gets itchy and bad in just 3 months, you should consume the oil before 3 months of manufacture … … is why people prefer to plant other varieties, for example picual oil is stable for 3 years, that’s an advantage for me, I have 3 years to sell my product, so I avoid speculators who want to cheat me … however Alberquina oil worth very expensive in the shop but the farmer deceive and pay a low price, a price unfair, buyers know they have to sell quickly or get in bad condition in 3 months and take advantage of this circumstance