New Mexico Olive

New Mexico Olive

New Mexico Olive Tree

Scientific name: Forestiera neomexicana

Alternate names: New Mexican Privet

Description: A deciduous shrub or small tree of the Oleaceae (ash) family. Native to New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, west to California. Little used outside of arid regions. Fairly fast growth makes it a good screening plant as well as a landscape item in arid climates. Does well in full sun. Does well in riparian areas (along streams and near lakes). This is a tree that can be pruned and used in a variety of ways.

New Mexico Olive Leaves

New Mexico Olive Leaves

Sometimes multi-trunked, it makes an attractive landscape tree, short enough to grow beneath utility lines. It can be pruned into a shrub or a hedge for screening, garden delineation, or used as one element of a windbreak.

Height: Up to 15 feet and nearly as broad.

Leaves: Small paired leaves

Fruit: Egg-shaped, blue-black fruit, 1/4 inch long, not always produced (some plants do not have both male and female flowers).

New Mexico Olive Fruit

New Mexico Olive Fruit

Habitat: Dry, rocky slopes and canyons in deserts.

Water: After established will survive without additional water, but grows faster with some water.

Wildlife: Birds eat the fruits

Management & Care: Pruning causes the many-branching tendency to increase, making it ideal for hedges and screening. Can be pruned into a tree, sometimes multi-trunked.

6 comments “New Mexico Olive”

Can the wood be used for anything?

I have a 19 yo New Mexico Olive bush that has over grown the area where it is planted.  It has 5 main branches that are about 3 inches in diamter at the base.  Is it possible to cut the main branches close to the ground and have the plant survive and regrow from the branches and/or the suckers that grow from the base?  Thanks for your help.

are the olive fruits edible ?

Hi Jennifer, thanks for visiting our website. The olives on the NM Olive tree are edible, but very bitter right off the tree. Native Americans used to make jam with them and use them in stews. Thanks, Sue

Hi Tom, You can try. Do it when it is dormant. If it survives, you will want to take off the sucker growth from the pruned-down stems as soon as possible. Thanks, Sue

Hi David, When it gets to a large enough diameter, it can be used to make furniture! Thanks, Sue


Leave a Reply