Native to the United States and Mexico, the Mexican olive, or Anacahuita, grows extensively in Mexico, but rarely in the United States, where it is called the Texas olive tree. In the United States, the Texas version is on the brink of extinction, but sometimes you can find it near well-drained soil from stream beds or slopes.
The Mexican olive tree originated in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, where it is the state flower, and San Luis Potosi, Coahuila and Tamaulipas. In the United States, the Texas olive tree is native to Texas' Hidalgo, Jim Hogg and Willacy counties.
The Mexican olive tree and the Texas olive tree were named for the 16th century German botanist Valerius Cordus and the 19th century botanist Pierre-Edmond Boissier. Together, these two names created the tree's Latin name, Cordia boissieri. The Mexican and Texas varieties also share the name wild olive.
Family and Hardiness
Despite its name, both the Mexican olive tree and Texas olive tree are not part of the olive tree family, but are a part of the borage family. The trees can withstand cold to about 20 degrees, which limits their habitat.
The Mexican olive and Texas olive produce yellow and purple-colored fruit that is edible, but not very palatable to humans. The trees are relatively small evergreens, growing to 15 feet high and 10 feet wide in normal soil and growing conditions. Flowers, which are from 2 to 12 inches wide, bloom from late winter to late summer, and attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Blooms are white and appear in clusters, while the leaves are gray-green.
In Mexico, people use the leaves of the Mexican olive tree in medicinal teas to help fight the common cold. Wild animals, cattle and birds enjoy the fruit and leaves of both trees. According to the website TexasGardener, Mexican and Texas olive trees can shade windows in the home or driveway or give other plants needed shade.
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