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Olive (Olea europaea)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Hoffmanns. & Link[1]


Bolivariaceae Griseb.
Forstiereae (Forstieraceae) Endl.
Fraxineae (Fraxinaceae) S.F. Gray
Iasmineae (Iasminaceae) Link
Jasmineae (Jasminaceae) Juss.
Lilacaceae Ventenat
Nyctantheae (Nyctanthaceae) J.G. Agardh
Syringaceae Horan.

Oleaceae /lˈs/ is a family containing 24 extant genera and around 600 species of mesophytic shrubs, trees and occasionally vines. As shrubs, members of this family may be twining climbers, or scramblers.


The oleaceae are a botanical family that includes evergreen and deciduous species with the Olive tree and its relatives. They are divided in several tribes, Fontanesieae, Forsythieae, Jasmineae, Myxopyreae, and Oleeae.[2] The family has a worldwide distribution in tropical, subtropical and temperate climates. The higher biodiversity is in Southeast Asia and Australia, the number of species is also important in China, Africa and North America. The seed dispersal is due to wind or animals. The animals are mostly birds in species with the fruit a berry. The wind disperse species with samaras.

Estimates of the taxonomy of oleaceae suggest some 29 genera worldwide, including over 600 species, possibly 900.[3] The Oleaceae are important components of tropical forests ranging from low-lying dry forest to montane Cloud forest.

Because the family is ancient and was widely distributed long time ago, modern species commonly are present in forests of various types occurring on all continents, except Antarctica, and on many associated major islands. Some genera are relict populations isolated by geographical barriers, for instance on islands or tropical mountains. Relict forests retain endemic fauna and flora in communities of great value in inferring the palaeontological succession and climate change that followed the breakups of the supercontinents.

Picconia for example, is an endemic Laurel forest genus to the Macaronesia. It is threatened by habitat loss.[4] Several relict species are endangered in areas as Mascarene Islands and others.



The family is characterized by opposite leaves that may be simple or compound (either pinnate or ternate), without stipule. Alternate or whorled arrangements are rarely observed, with some Jasminum species presenting spiral configuration. The laminas are pinnately-veined and can be serrate, dentate or entire at margin. Domatia are observed in certain taxa. The leaves may be either deciduous or evergreen, with evergreen species predominating in warm temperate and tropical regions, and deciduous species predominating in colder regions.


The flowers are most often bisexual and actinomorphic, occurring in racemes or panicles, and often fragrant. The calyx, which may or may not be present, and the corolla are gamosepalous and four-lobed. The androecium has 2 stamens inserted in the perigynous zone and alternate with the lobes. The stigmas are two-lobed.

The gynoecium consists of a compound pistil with two carpels. The ovary is superior with two locules, each of which bearing two axillary ovules. Sometimes the base of the ovary is circled by a nectary disk. The plants are most often hermaphrodite but sometimes polygamomonoecious.


Oleaceae fruit can be berries, drupes, capsules or samaras.


Many members of the family are economically significant. The olive (Olea europaea) is important for its fruit and the oil extracted from it, the ashes (Fraxinus) are valued for tough wood, and forsythia, lilacs, jasmines, osmanthuses, privets, and fringetrees are valued as ornamental plants in gardens and landscaping.

Selected genera[edit]


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  2. ^ a b "Oleaceae Hoffmanns. & Link, nom. cons.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-01-17. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  3. ^ http://es.scribd.com/doc/47516426/9/OLEACEAE
  4. ^ World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1998). Picconia azorica