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Tree Medicines of the Garden Route: Wild Olive

Scientific name: Olea europaea L. subsp. africana (Mill.) P.S.Green.
Family: Oleaceae.
Common names: Wild Olive, Olienhout (Afr.), Mohlware (N-Sotho, S-Sotho), Umnquma (Zulu, Xhosa, Swati), Mutlhwari (Venda), Motlhware (Tswana).

The Wild Olive tree is found in a variety of different natural habitats, more often near water, rocky hillsides, on stream banks and in woodland areas in South Africa. Its scientific name is derived from Latin – olea meaning “olive”, europaea meaning “from Europe” and africana meaning “from Africa”.

There are four known species of the oleaceae family in South Africa and the Wild Olive is a sub-species of the commercial olive tree. Evergreen, drought resistant and highly resistant to disease, the Wild Olive is regarded as one of the hardiest of the indigenous tree species found naturally occurring in the Garden Route.


a. Bear in mind when harvesting any indigenous tree to do so sustainably. Different trees and different parts of a tree have their own harvesting methods and periods throughout the year. The South African National Biodiversity Institute has informative harvesting tips on their website (SANBI link below).

b. As with any medication, when using plants for their medicinal values it is recommended that you seek professional guidance from a natural health practitioner and undertake appropriate research before use.

For additional information on germination, propagation, ecology, maintenance, etc. of indigenous SA trees, go to:

Click here if you would like to sponsor a Wild Olive and help grow a mini forest!

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