Many Landscape Designers are surprised when they hear that their beloved Olive Tree, also referred to as the Olea europaea, is considered to be an invasive plant according to the California Invasive Plant Council’s (CAL-IPC) invasive plant inventory. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) defines invasive plants as a plant that is both non-native and able to establish itself on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting our ecosystems. Olea europaea is native to Africa and temperate Asia as well as Southern Europe. Although it was introduced to California in the 18-19th centuries, this common landscaping selection is considered non-native and displaces the native California vegetation. This issue usually comes up on projects that are pursuing LEED for Homes, which requires that no invasive plants be introduced to the project as a prerequisite (i.e. mandatory, minimum requirement to achieve LEED certification). It can also affect projects pursuing GreenPoint Rated Certification, which allows project teams to gain one point for not introducing any invasive plants to a project (but this is not mandatory for certification). It is also important to note that only the fruit-bearing olive trees are considered to be invasive. For projects that would still like to incorporate olive trees into their landscape design, an alternative option is the fruitless (non-fruit bearing) olive tree. For more information, refer to the CAL-IPC inventory list.

For more information about how plant selection can affect your project, contact VCA Green below:

Moe Fakih, Principal

Contributing Writer: Mahmoud Harb, LEED AP BD+C

Image Source: Wikipedia. Fair Use.