Florida Forestry Information
Oleaceae
The Olive Family
 
The olive family consists of 25 genera and about 500 species of plants with opposite leaves.  These plants are widely distributed in tropical and temperate forests of North and South America, Europe, and Asia.  Some of the trees of this family are important timber-producing species, others are important ornamentals. 
 
 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
wild olive
fringetree
white ash
pop ash
 
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Osmanthus americanus  
wild olive, devilwood 
 
Habit 

The wild olive is a tree, 50-70 feet in height, 1 foot in diameter.  It has a long, narrow, somewhat oblong crown.  This tree often appears shrubby. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, opposite, and persistant.  The leaves are 4-5 inches long, 1-2.5 inches wide, oval to elliptical-shaped, tapering to an acute, notched, or rounded apex.  Leaf bases are wedge-shaped.  Leaf margins are entire and somewhat curled.  Leaf surfaces are bright green, leathery, and smooth above, paler below.  Petioles are stout, up to 3/4 inch long. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers are perfect and imperfect and are on separate plants (dioecious). 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a dark blue, ovoid, thin-skinned drupe, about 1 inch long, 1/2 inch wide.  The seed is ovoid and brown. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, remotely angled, and brown.  The pith is white and homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin, tight, and gray-brown with small, appressed scales, which exfoliate to reveal reddish inner bark. 
 
Habitat 

The wild olive grows on moist, rich soil near swamps, ponds, and streams.  It is less common on dry upland sites.  It is found from North Carolina to Florida along the coast; west to Louisiana. 
 
Use 

This tree is used as an ornamental. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Chionanthus virginicus  
fringetree 
 
Habit 

The fringetree is a shrub which sometimes reaches arborescent proportions, 20-30 feet in height, 8-12 inches in diameter.  It has a short trunk with stout, ascending branches that form a narrow, oblong crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are simple, opposite, and deciduous.  The leaves are 4-8 inches long, 1-4 inches wide, oval to elliptical-shaped, tapering to an acute apex.  Leaf bases are wedge-shaped.  Leaf margins are entire and somewhat wavy.  Leaf surfaces are dark green and glabrous above, paler below with numerous hairs on the veins.   Petioles are stout, up to 3/4 inch long. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers are perfect and are on separate plants (dioecious).  They are white and have an attractive "fringy" appearance, hence the name of the plant. 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a dark blue-black, ovoid, drupe, about 1 inch long.  This drupe is occasionally covered with a whitish layer.  The seed is ovoid, 1/3 inch long. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are stout, slightly angled, ash-gray, and pubescent.  The pith is white and homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin, tight, and with thin appressed, brown superficial scales. 
 
Habitat 

The fringetree grows on moist, rich soil near streams.  It is occassionally found at altitudes of up to 4,000 feet.  It is found from Pennsylvania to Florida; west to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. 
 
Use 

The bark of the fringetree is a source of tonic and has been used as a diuretic and fever reductant.  It is frequently planted as an ornamental. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Fraxinus americana 
white ash 
 
white ash, photo by Chris DemersHabit 

The white ash is a moderately large tree, 70-80 feet in height, 2-3 feet in diameter.  In the forest it has a clear, straight bole, supporting a narrow, pyramidal crown.  Open-grown trees produce branches within a few feet of the ground and form a broad, round-topped, symmetrical crown. 

Leaves 

Leaves are odd-pinnately compound, opposite, and deciduous.  The leaves are 8-13 inches long, with 5-9 stalked leaflets.  The leaflets are oval to elliptical-shaped, 3-5 inches long, 1-3 inches wide, with an acute apex.  Leaflet bases are rounded or wedge-shaped.  Leaflet margins are toothed or entire.  Leaf surfaces are dark green and glabrous above, paler below and more or less pubescent.   Rachis are stout and groooved. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers are perfect and imperfect and are on separate plants (dioecious). 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is an oblong or somewhat spatulate-shaped, light brown samara, up to 2 inches long.  The wings are slightly extended along the side of the the seed cavity. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are stout, green to greenish-brown.  The pith is white and homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thick and gray-brown, becoming deeply and narrowly fissured by narrow, interlacing ridges, forming a diamond-shaped pattern. 

Habitat 

The white ash is most commonly found on moist, rich, well-drained soils in association with other hardwoods.  It is also found in bottomlands near streams and often on low slopes.  It is found from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; west through northern Michigan and southern Minnesota; south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. 
 
Use 

The white ash is an important timber species that is prized as a source of wood, for handles, baseball bats and furniture.  White ash is also planted as an ornamental because it is attractive, hardy and relatively free of diseases. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Fraxinus caroliniana 
pop ash, Carolina ash 
 
Habit 

The pop ash is a relatively small tree, about 40 feet in height, 1 foot in diameter.  It has small branches that form a somewhat rounded, narrow crown. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are odd-pinnately compound, opposite, and deciduous.  The leaves are 7-12 inches long, with 5-7 stalked leaflets.  The leaflets are oval-shaped, 3-6 inches long, 2-3 inches wide, with a blunt or rounded apex.  Leaflet bases are wedge-shaped.  Leaflet margins are coarsely serrate.  Leaf surfaces are dark green and glabrous above, paler below.   Rachis are stout and circular in cross section. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers are perfect and imperfect and are on separate plants (dioecious). 
 
Fruit 
 
Fruit is a broad, flattened, oblong samara, 3-winged and up to 3 inches long.  The seed is elliptical and completely surrounded by the wing.  The wings are pointed or notched at the tips. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are slender, at first greenish pubescent, becoming brown or gray.  The pith is white and homogeneous. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin and gray with an irregularly scaly surface. 
 
Habitat 

The pop ash is a swamp species.  It is tolerant of excessive soil moisture and able to withstand periodic inundation with water.  It is most commonly found in the shade of larger trees.  It is found from Maryland south along the Atlantic coastal plain to Florida and west along the Gulf coastal plain to Texas.  It is also found in Cuba. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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