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Products > Cneorum tricoccon
Cneorum tricoccon - Spurge Olive
Image of Cneorum tricoccon
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Rutaceae (Citrus)
Origin: Mediterranean (Europe)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Height: 1-3 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): No Irrigation required
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Cneorum tricoccon (Spurge Olive) A small compact evergreen shrub that grows to 2 feet tall, typically with a rounded shape and with dark green linear 1 to 2 inch long leathery leaves that somewhat resemble a green olive foliage. The small bright yellow flowers appear in late spring and followed by red fruits in the summer and fall that dry to black. It can be used as a tall groundcover in dry bright shady locations such as an understory for native oaks or grown out into full sun where it is a denser stouter plant. Plant in a well-drained soil and water sparingly if at all in summer - if summer irrigated, the soil must drain well. It is hardy to about 25 F and was unharmed in our garden during the January 2007 freeze, with 3 nights down to 25F. Trim out any stems that may occasionally die off (which happens even with healthy plants) or to shape. A great plant with attractive foliage and red fruit for areas that are unirrigated. It is not attractive to browsing animals and tolerates full sun to light shade and useful as an understory tall groundcover plant under oaks or even clipped formally as a small boxwood replacement. This plant came from the western Mediterranean region from the Balearic Islands in the west to southern coast of Spain, France, Italy and on Sardinia, where it typically grows on rocky, usually calcareous slopes. The genus was at once in its own family, the Cneoraceae, which were considered a relict shrub family that evolved under tropical conditions during the Cenozoic era, but current treatment now has it placed in the rue or citrus family, the Rutaceae. The name for the genus comes from a Greek name for a plant that resembles an olive and the specific epithet is a combination of the Latin words 'tri' meaning 3 and 'coccum' (from the Greek 'kokkos' meaning "grain" or "seed" in reference to the 3 seeded fruit. The common name is interesting since it is not a spurge, a name normally associated with plants in the genus Euphorbia, and while it has leaves that are somewhat similar to that of the true olive in the genus Olea, and also grows with native stands of them, it otherwise has no relationship or similarity to the olive plant. Spurge Olive was introduced into the US by Dr. Franceschi at his Santa Barbara Nursery in 1910 and has long been cultivated in the area. The original seed for our first crops we grew in 1998 were collected from an old established planting in Orpet Park on the Santa Barbara Riviera.  This information about Cneorum tricoccon displayed is based on research conducted in our library and from reliable online resources. We will also note observations that we have made about it as it grows in the gardens in our nursery and those elsewhere, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others, and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.