Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata
(wild olive)

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Datasheet

Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 16 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • wild olive
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • O. europaea subsp. cuspidata, the wild olive, is present from northeast Africa and southwest Asia to drier parts of Yunnan and Sichuan in China. This subspecies is the ancestor of the cultivated olive,...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit as a large, mature, tree.
TitleHabit
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit as a large, mature, tree.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit as a large, mature, tree.
HabitOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit as a large, mature, tree.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as a group of trees.
TitleHabit
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as a group of trees.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as a group of trees.
HabitOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as a group of trees.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); tree canopy.
TitleCanopy
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); tree canopy.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); tree canopy.
CanopyOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); tree canopy.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit. Gnarled base of an old tree.
TitleHabit
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit. Gnarled base of an old tree.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit. Gnarled base of an old tree.
HabitOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit. Gnarled base of an old tree.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch and bark.
TitleBranch
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch and bark.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch and bark.
BranchOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch and bark.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as foliage with fruits.
TitleHabit
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as foliage with fruits.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as foliage with fruits.
HabitOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, as foliage with fruits.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch, leaves and a single fruit. Note pointed tips of leaves.
TitleBranch
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch, leaves and a single fruit. Note pointed tips of leaves.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch, leaves and a single fruit. Note pointed tips of leaves.
BranchOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); branch, leaves and a single fruit. Note pointed tips of leaves.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruit and leaves on a branch.
TitleFruit and leaves
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruit and leaves on a branch.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruit and leaves on a branch.
Fruit and leavesOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruit and leaves on a branch.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, with an abundance of fruits.
TitleFruiting habit
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, with an abundance of fruits.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, with an abundance of fruits.
Fruiting habitOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); habit, with an abundance of fruits.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruits and foliage.
TitleFruits and foliage
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruits and foliage.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruits and foliage.
Fruits and foliageOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); fruits and foliage.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); single, unripe, fruit on a branch.
TitleFruit
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); single, unripe, fruit on a branch.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); single, unripe, fruit on a branch.
FruitOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); single, unripe, fruit on a branch.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); close-up of ripening fruits.
TitleFruits
CaptionOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); close-up of ripening fruits.
Copyright©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand
Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); close-up of ripening fruits.
FruitsOlea europaea subsp. cuspidata (wild olive); close-up of ripening fruits.©Trevor James/Hamilton, New Zealand

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (Wall. ex G. Don) Cif.

Preferred Common Name

  • wild olive

Other Scientific Names

  • Linociera lebrunii Staner
  • Olea africana Mill.
  • Olea aucheri A.Chev. ex Ehrend.
  • Olea chrysophylla Lam.
  • Olea chrysophylla var. aucheri A.Chev.
  • Olea chrysophylla var. cuspidata (Wall. & G.Don) A.Chev.
  • Olea chrysophylla var. ferruginea (Royle) A.Chev.
  • Olea chrysophylla var. nubica (Schweinf. ex Baker) A.Chev.
  • Olea chrysophylla var. somaliensis (Baker) A.Chev.
  • Olea chrysophylla var. subnuda R.E.Fr.
  • Olea chrysophylla var. verrucosa (Willd.) A.Chev.
  • Olea cuspidata Wall. & G.Don
  • Olea europaea f. dulcis Collen.
  • Olea europaea subsp. africana (Mill.) P. S. Green
  • Olea europaea var. cuspidata (Wall. & G.Don) Cif.
  • Olea europaea var. nubica Schweinf. ex Baker
  • Olea europaea var. verrucosa Willd.
  • Olea ferruginea Royle
  • Olea indica Kleinhof ex Burm.f.
  • Olea kilimandscharica Knobl.
  • Olea monticola Gand.
  • Olea sativa var. verrucosa (Willd.) Roem. & Schult.
  • Olea schimperi Gand.
  • Olea somaliensis Baker
  • Olea subtrinervata Chiov.
  • Olea verrucosa (Willd.) Link
  • Olea verrucosa var. brachybotrys DC.

International Common Names

  • English: African olive; brown olive; Indian olive

Local Common Names

  • France: olivier d'Afrique
  • Germany: Afrikanischer; Ölbaum
  • India: bair banj; ka; kahu; kan; kao; kau; zaitoon
  • Italy: olivio africano
  • Pakistan: kao; kau; zaitoon
  • Somalia: wera

EPPO code

  • OLVEA (Olea europaea subsp. africana)

Summary of Invasiveness

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O. europaea subsp. cuspidata, the wild olive, is present from northeast Africa and southwest Asia to drier parts of Yunnan and Sichuan in China. This subspecies is the ancestor of the cultivated olive, O. europaea subsp. europaea and although not of major commercial value, it has been introduced into Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, USA. O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is an aggressive invader and it can form a dense canopy capable of decreasing native biodiversity and altering habitats. It can be highly invasive in drier woodlands, riverine environments, coastal headlands and dune systems. O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is a declared noxious weed in New South Wales and South Australia and has been listed nationally as a potential environmental weed (Csurches and Edwards, 1998). A PIER (2016) risk assessment for this species gives this species a high risk score of 11 in the Pacific region.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Oleales
  •                         Family: Oleaceae
  •                             Genus: Olea
  •                                 Species: Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is the widespread wild olive which is native to a broad area from southeast Europe and northeast Africa through southwest Asia to the drier parts of Yunnan and Sichuan in China (Green, 2002).

Olea is a genus of 20 Old World tropical and temperate species (Mabberley, 2002). O. europaea subsp. cuspidata was probably the ancestor of O. europaea subsp. europaea which was first cultivated north of the Dead Sea about 3700-3600 BCE.

ITIS (2016) accepts only two subspecies – O. europaea subsp. europaea L. and O. europaea subsp. cuspidata (Wall. ex G. Don) Cif., rejecting the taxa O. africana Mill., O. chrysophylla Lam., O. europaea subsp. africana (Mill.) P. Green, O. ferruginea Royle, O. verrucosa (Willd.) Link. as pseudonyms of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata. 

In contrast to this, The Plant List (2013) and ISSG (2016) accept five subspecies with different distributions. These include O. europaea subsp. cerasiformis G.Kunkel & Sundingnative to Madeira, O. europaea subsp. cuspidata (Wall. & G.Don) Cif., native to eastern Africa to souther Asia, O. europaea subsp. guanchica P.Vargas & al., native to the Canary Islands, O. europaea subsp. laperrinei (Batt. & Trab.) Cif., native to Sahara and O. europaea subsp. maroccana (Greuter & Burdet) P.Vargas & al., native to Morocco.

The subspecies O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is however, not universally accepted (Euro+Med, 2016).

Description

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O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is a shrub or small to medium-sized evergreen tree with a rounded crown. Bark, grey to brown, smooth when young but rough and deeply fissured on older trees; young branches 4-angled. Leaves opposite, linear-lanceolate to narrowly oblong-elliptic, up to about 10 cm long, grey-green to dark green above, with a silvery to golden-brown layer of scales below; apex with a sharp tip, often curled backwards; margin entire, rolled under. Flowers small, in lax axillary, occasionally terminal, heads, greenish-cream, sweetly scented. Fruit ellipsoid, about 8 × 10 mm, thinly fleshy with a sharp apical tip, red to purple black when ripe (Hyde et al., 2016).

The underside of the leaves of the closely related species O. europaea subsp. europaea (the common olive) are silvery-grey in colour with pointed tips. In contrast to this, O. europaea subsp. cuspidata has pale-green-brown undersides of the leaves which have hooked tips (Queensland Government, 2016).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is native to parts of Asia and Africa. This species has been introduced into Australia, New Zealand and USA.

In Ethiopia this species is highly valued as firewood and because the Afromontane forests have been and are still being degraded by animal grazing and browsing, the existence of this species is threatened.

In Australia, Cuneo and Leishman (2006) describe the seemingly inexorable invasion of the Mount Annan Botanic Garden, which began with scattered occurrences over 20 ha in 1985 to coverage of 80 ha in 2006, with some parts developed into mature pure stands on steeper sites. Established populations in southwest Sydney are reported spreading northward to other areas of the Cumberland Plain, primarily along roadsides and beneath power lines (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006).

After the introduction of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata to Norfolk Island soon after 1788, it spread dramatically and by 1984 it occupoed 120 ha of the Norfolk Island National Park (PIER, 2016).

There are reports of O. europaea in Chile, Ecuador, Guam, French Polynesia, Singapore, Taiwan and Tonga (PIER, 2016) however the exact subspecies is not reported. For this reason this countries have not been added into the Distribution Table.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2016
ChinaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
-SichuanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
-YunnanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
IndiaPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2016
IranPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
OmanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
PakistanPresentNativePlanted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2016
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
YemenPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016

Africa

AngolaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
BotswanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
BurundiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
EgyptPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
EritreaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
EthiopiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
KenyaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
LesothoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
MadagascarPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
MalawiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
MauritiusPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
MozambiquePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
NamibiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
RéunionPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
RwandaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
SomaliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
South AfricaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
SudanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
SwazilandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
TanzaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
UgandaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
ZambiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016
ZimbabwePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2016

North America

USAPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Government, 2016Present in coastal and sub-coastal districts in the east; significant environmental weed
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Government, 2016Present in south-eastern areas
Midway IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
New ZealandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
Norfolk IslandWidespreadIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016; Queensland Government, 2016

History of Introduction and Spread

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It is thought that O. europaea subsp. cuspidata was introduced into Norfolk Island shortly after the arrival of European settlers in 1788 (PIER, 2016). This species was introduced for use as fence posts and spread dramatically as native forest was cleared (PIER, 2016).

O. europaea subsp. cuspidata was first introduced into Australia in the 1810s. Naturalized populations were first recorded on Norfolk Island and in the Sydney region. Cuneo and Leishman (2006) describe how the Camden-Campbell town area on the southern edge of the Cumberland Plain in western Sydney became the centre of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata occurrence in Australia.

Besnard et al. (2007) investigated the likely origins of both cultivated (O. europaea subsp. europaea) and wild (O. europaea subsp. cuspidata) olives in Australia and Hawaii, using eight nuclear DNA microsatellites, plastid DNA markers and ITS-1 sequences. They found that east Australian and Hawaiian population of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata originated from southern Africa whilst south Australian populations of O. europaea subsp. europaea were mostly derived from western or central Mediterranean cultivars. They also found that the genetic diversity of invasive populations of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata in Australia was significantly reduced by comparison with that of southern African populations. Their study also determined that East Australia could have been an intermediate source for the introduction to Hawaii (Besnard et al., 2007). O. europaea subsp. cupsidata has been reported as naturalized on the Hawaiian Islands since the 1960s (Besnard et al., 2007).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia 1893 Yes Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (2016) New South Wales

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata being introduced into other countries is high because it is valued as a useful landscape species. It is possible that this subspecies could also be introduced in mistake of the more valuable subspecies O. europaea subsp. europaea. In Australia there are a number of legislations which aim to prevent the spread and control this species (further details can be found in the SPS Measures section under Prevention and Control).

Habitat

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In its native environment in central Africa O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is found in a variety of woodland and riverine habitats, often near water but also on termite mounds and among rocks (Hyde et al., 2016). It has been reported in scrub, woods and dry rocky places up to 3000 m (PIER, 2016). In New South Wales, Australia, it is highly invasive in similar habitats such as drier woodlands and riverine environments, as well as coastal headlands and dune systems (Muyt, 2001).

O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is a dominant, late-successional species in the Afromontane zone (Bekele, 2005). In Ethiopia this species is an essential component of both moist and dry Afromontane communities and may be one of the key precursor species for natural forest regeneration (Aerts, 2006).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rocky areas / lava flows Present, no further details
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

A chromosome number of 23 has been reported for O. europaea subsp. cuspidata (2n=46) (CABI, 2016).

Besnard et al. (2014) found strong evidence for hybridization between O. europaea subsp. europaea and O. europaea subsp. cuspidata in early introduction sites in Australia, both in New South Wales and South Australia. It is thought that this may have helped reduce the negative effects due to a loss of genetic diversity and also helped populations adapt better to new environments.

Reproductive Biology

Individual trees produce fruit on a two to three year cycle, depending on seasonal conditions. Flower initiation starts in late spring (October in Australia) with the small creamy-white flowers appearing in mid-summer (December) (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006). The small green fruits develop in late summer and ripen during winter. Fruits are 6-7 mm in diameter when mature and change from green to purple-black when ripe. Trees at the early mature stage can bear more than 25,000 fruits. In Australia ripe fruit are produced on individual trees from June to September (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006).

The large seed size of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata suggests that it can tolerate a broad range of conditions such as shade, low soil moisture, herbivory and competition (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006). Cuneo and Leishman (2006) quote unpublished work by von Richter as showing that seed longevity in the seed bank is considered to be up to two years. In Australia, freshly collected seed was found to have up to 88% viability with seed germinating readily once the woody endocarp is removed (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006). A study by Aerts (2006) found that there was no seedling recruitment in areas of bare soil as recruitment depends on shelter by pioneer shrubs, preferably dense, multi-stemmed shrubs with a wide base and crown on a mulch-rich mound.

Physiology and Phenology

Seed germination of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata tends to be higher during the rainy seasons, with scarified seeds showing much higher germination than un-scarified ones (Bekele, 2005). Shading was found to make no difference to germination, but seedlings under shade were taller and had more leaves. Germination of seeds was found to continue for up to 35 months (Bekele, 2005).

Cuneo and Leishman (2006) detail the stages of invasion by O. europaea subsp. cuspidata in Australia. Seedling growth is very variable and dependent on the availability of moisture. In dry exposed sites plants can be less than 1 m tall after 5-10 years. In moist protected sites they reach sexual maturity after five to six years when they are often shrubs 3-4 m high and 3-4 m across with stem diameters of about 35 mm. After plants begin fruiting, they form dense seedling mats in the seed fall zone, with seedling densities of 950 m-2 being commonly observed. Seedlings can remain suppressed in this seedling bank stage for years. In the initial invasion stage O. europaea subsp. cuspidata occurs as scattered shrubs with high light levels near to the ground. Native shrubs, grasses and herbs persist and eucalypt seedling recruitment and sapling growth is evident.

During what Cuneo and Leishman (2006) term ‘the establishment stage’ (8-12 years) plants reach their full height of 10-13 m, forming dense stands of single and multi-trunked trees with an average spacing of 1-2 m. Light levels at ground level are substantially reduced as the canopy begins to coalesce and native shrubs are shaded out. Eventually, after 15+ years, the ‘mature dense stand stage’ is reached as a more uniform stand of multi-trunked trees with an open understory is formed.

Environmental Requirements

O. europaea subsp. cuspidata can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and establish in temperate or subtropical conditions and on steep exposed hilly terrain beyond the tolerance of related woody weeds such as Ligustrum spp. According to Cuneo and Leishman (2006), the high resin content of the leaves explains to some extent the ability of the plant to withstand the climatic extremes of exposed slopes and ridgelines on poorly developed soils. On the southern Cumberland Plain in New South Wales, they show a strong preference for clay-based soils derived from Wianamatta Shale, with seeding and mature plant establishment in adjacent Hawkesbury Sandstone areas only spasmodically observed around perch trees.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
35 28 500 2000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -5
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 21
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 30 43
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -2 15

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration38number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall8501500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Frogattia olivinia Predator Fruits/pods not specific Cuneo and Leishman, 2006

Notes on Natural Enemies

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CABI (2016), in its Crop Protection Compendium on O. europaea subsp. europaea, lists a number of serious pests and diseases that can damage plantation olive trees or their fruits. Most of these pests and diseases are also likely to be natural enemies of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata.

In New South Wales and Queensland, Australia the native olive lace bug (Frogattia olivinia) is a pest on this subspecies causing small fruits to fall before ripening (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Vector Transmission

Frugivorous birds appear to be the main method of local dispersal of seeds of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata. Aerts (2006) suggest that in Ethiopia, birds like the common and active common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) may be responsible for dispersal. In New Zealand, Williams (2008) has reported that starlings can carry up to six seeds for 40 km, whereas blackbirds carry only a single seed to cover over a distance of c. 100 m. In Australia, in addition to dispersal by birds it has been reported that foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and possibly other mammals may also be partly responsible for seed dispersal (Spenneman and Allen, 2000).

Accidental Introduction

Although there is little direct evidence, it seems likely that this subspecies may have been introduced into new countries or locations within countries by mistake for the much more valuable subspecies, the commercial olive, O. europaea subsp. europaea.

Intentional Introduction

O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is an attractive small tree which is sometimes planted as a useful addition to parklands and reserves and has probably been introduced to some countries for this purpose.

Pathway Causes

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Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Host and vector organisms Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Environmental Impact

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O. europaea subsp. cuspidata can have a major impact on habitats by crowding out and ultimately dominating many vegetation types (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006). As a result this can cause a loss of native plant diversity (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006).

O. europaea subsp. cuspidata populations in southwest Sydney are reported to be spreading northward to other areas of the Cumberland Plain, primarily along roadsides and beneath power lines (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006). This is regarded as significant because this region contains thirteen Endangered Ecological Communities of which O. europaea subsp. cuspidata poses a serious threat towards. Mapping of major infestations throughout the Cumberland Plain using 2000 satellite imagery has identified 4000 ha where this species currently forms a dense and dominant understory. Elsewhere in New South Wales it is reported as threatening important ecological communities (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006).

In Australia, a study by Nguyen et al. (2016) found that invertebrate species richness in mature stands of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata (>15 years) was significantly reduced when compared to a native community. In addition to this, the invertebrate species composition was also reduced in both mature and early-stage O. europaea subsp. cuspidata habitats (Nguyen et al., 2016).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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Economic Value

The wood of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is hard and heavy. The wood is fine-textured and finishes well and is often used to make ornaments such as wall clocks and vases. Jewellery such as beads, brooches and bangles can also be produced. Although the tree does not produce logs of commercial sawlog size, furniture makers with great effort may produce furniture from the limited supplies of timber (Orwa et al., 2009).

In Ethiopia it is valued as firewood and is used for making local farm implements and is used in house and fence construction (Negash, 2003). As a result, this has led to the decline of this species in Ethiopia.

Social Benefit

In Eritrea, villagers extensively use O. europaea subsp. cuspidata for firewood. In Ethiopia, the root, bark leaves and wood are smoked to flavour yoghurt or a traditional local beverage (Negash, 2003). Fresh branches, cut and trimmed into small pieces are used for dental hygiene.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed

Environmental

  • Amenity
  • Graft stock
  • Landscape improvement

Fuels

  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ritual uses
  • Sociocultural value

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits
  • Oil/fat

Materials

  • Beads
  • Carved material
  • Essential oils
  • Oils

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The closest relative of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is O. europaea subsp. europaea, to which it probably gave rise many centuries ago (Mabberley, 2002). O. europaea subsp. europaea differs in its larger fruit and its leaves, with densely silvery scaly undersides without hooked tips (Queensland Government, 2016).

A number of Australian native species can also be confused with both O. europaea subspecies. The Australian native O. paniculata has oppositely arranged leaves with paler green hairless undersides and its fleshy fruit are only about 10 mm long (Queensland Government, 2016). Chionanthus ramiflorus (northern olive) also has oppositely arranged leaves with paler green hairless undersides and its fleshy fruit are relatively small (10-25 mm long). The mock olives (Notelaea spp.) also have oppositely arranged leaves and the undersides can be either hairy or hairless. The flowers are borne in unbranched clusters and again their fleshy fruit are relatively small at 5-20 mm long (Queensland Government, 2016).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Prevention

SPS Measures

O. europaea subsp. cuspidata is a Class 4 noxious weed in New South Wales, Australia for the Ryde Local Government Area, the aim being to minimize the negative impact of the plant on the economy, community or environment (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006). This means that plants may not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed and that their spread must be controlled according to the measures specified in a management plan published by the local control authority. In South Australia, all subspecies of O. europaea are listed as Class 5d weeds which means that the owner of land within the control area must control all plants on their land and are responsible for the cost of control on roadsides adjacent to their property.

Control

Chemical Control

Mature plants are best controlled by cut-stump or basal bark treatments, using picloram + triclopyr, triclopyr or 2,4-D ester applied over the whole stump for the cut-stump treatment, or triclopyr + diesel oil applied to the bottom 50-60 cm of the tree trunk (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992). Young seedlings can be treated with 2,4-D amine or glyphosate (the latter should not be used in a grassy sward) and seedlings between six months and two years old with triclopyr or triclopyr + picloram herbicide.

IPM

It has been reported that mechanical control of mature plants of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata with a drum mulcher (attached to an excavator) can be used where access is available and erosion hazard is low (Cuneo and Leishman, 2006) However, it was recommend that trees and seedlings be treated with herbicide before mechanical mulching.

Control by Utilization

In Ethiopia, its native range, seedlings of O. europaea subsp. cuspidata are very palatable to wild herbivores (cattle and goats) (Bekele, 2005). In Australia, Parsons and Cuthbertson (1992) reported that plants of O. europaea were susceptible to grazing pressure and suggested that at least in some areas increasing this grazing pressure could help reduce their spread.

Ecosystem Restoration

While chemical control is readily achieved, the plants removed must be replaced as soon as possible with useful species, often utilizing a vigorous well-maintained pasture (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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25/05/2016 Original text by:

Ian Popay, Landcare Research, New Zealand

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