northern olive

Chionanthus ramiflora
Shrub
Opposite
Simple
White
Cream
Discoloured

A tree growing 3-25 m tall. Its trunk is covered in greyish or greyish-brown coloured bark. Its paired leaves (8-20 cm long) are hairless with bright green and shiny upper surfaces, and paler and duller undersides. Its small white or yellowish flowers are arranged in branches clusters (2.5-12 cm long) in the upper leaf forks. Its fruit (10-30 mm long) resemble a small olive and turn black or bluish-black as they mature.

Common names 
Also known as: native olive, northern native olive, northern olive,
Family 
Oleaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Year round
Native/Exotic 
Native
Origin 
Native to China, the Indian sub-continent, northern Australia and some Pacific Islands. In Australia it is native to the coastal districts of northern and central Queensland.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Sparingly naturalised in the Moreton district in south-eastern Queensland.

Habitat 

A potential weed of riparian vegetation, urban bushland, rainforest gaps and margins, roadsides, disturbed sites and waste areas.

Habit 

A tree growing 3-25 m tall.

Impact and control methods 
Stem and leaves 

The main trunk is covered in greyish or greyish-brown coloured bark, while the younger stems are green, hairless (i.e. glabrous), and slightly flattened. The paired leaves are simple and borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 2-5 cm long. These leaves (8-20 cm long and 4-7 cm wide) are oval (i.e. elliptic) or somewhat elongated (i.e. broadly lanceolate) in shape with entire margins and pointed or rounded tips (i.e. acute or obtuse apices). These leaves are hairless (i.e. glabrous) with bright green and shiny upper surfaces, and paler and duller undersides.

Flowers and fruits 

The small flowers are arranged in branches clusters (2.5-12 cm long) in the upper leaf forks or occasionally at the tips of the branches (i.e. in axillary or terminal panicles). These flowers are borne on stalks (i.e. pedicels) 1-6 mm long. They have four tiny green sepals (about 1 mm long) and four small white or yellowish petals (2.5-5.5 mm long). They also have two stamens and an ovary topped with a short style and stigma. The fruit resembles a berry, but has a hard centre (i.e. it is a drupe). These fruit (10-30 mm long and 5-22 mm wide) are usually oval (i.e. ellipsoid) in shape and turn from green to black or bluish-black in colour as they mature. They usually have a slight, whitish, powdery coating (i.e. they are pruinose) and contain a single large seed.

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces only by seed, which are dispersed by birds and other animals that eat its fruit.

Similar species 

Northern olive (Chionanthus ramiflora) can be confused with some locally native species (especially when not in fruit) including Australian olive (Olea paniculata), and the mock olives (Notelaea spp.). These species can be distinguished by the following differences: northern olive (Chionanthus ramiflora) has oppositely arranged leaves with paler green hairless (i.e. glabrous) undersides. Its flowers are borne in branched clusters (i.e. panicles) and its fleshy fruit are relatively small (10-25 mm long).Australian olive (Olea paniculata) has oppositely arranged leaves with paler green hairless (i.e. glabrous) undersides. Its flowers are borne in branched clusters (i.e. panicles) and its fleshy fruit are relatively small (about 10 mm long).the mock olives (Notelaea spp.) have oppositely arranged leaves with hairy (i.e. pubescent) or hairless (i.e. glabrous) undersides. Their flowers are borne in unbranched clusters (i.e. racemes) and their fleshy fruit are relatively small (5-20 mm long).