Plants in the chaparrals need to adapt to the poor soil, lack of moisture and varying temperatures. The olive tree is a master adapted to such conditions, found especially thriving in the Mediterranean regions.
The olive tree is a medium sized evergreen tree, which has rather thin long green opposite leaves, white flowers, and small edible fruits. This fruit is one of the major agricultural exports in the Mediterranean region and a major food source as well as an ingredient in soaps, fuels, cooking products, oil, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
Although a native of the Mediterranean, this tree has been introduced to subtropical, warm temperate climates, and not this tree along with others in its family, like the ash tree, lilac, and jasmine trees are found in other parts of the world too.
The tree is best growing in poor soil compared to rich soils, where there is a higher chance that it might develop a disease, or the quality of fruits will be poor. They flourish best on limestone slopes and coastal climates, and therefore are extremely drought resistant.
The tree thrives in soil that is rich in calcium (calcareous soil) and soils in regions like chaparral are best for them to grow.
The olive tree has an extensive root system that grows very long and deep into the ground in search of moisture and nutrients. They are hardy trees having had to struggle and fight for their nutrition.
Because of their hardiness, olive trees live a great many years, and by the accounts of some famous Greek historians, even about 1600 years.
The tree grows very slowly, and its gray bark is rough and looks gnarled and rough. Its wood however is thick and beautiful.
The leaf system of the olive tree is an interesting adaptation of the plant that allows it to constantly produce nutrients. Leaves fall every two to three years and are replaced at the same time around spring.
These trees are also quite stubborn; they grow back from wherever it is chopped off from quite easily.
The flowers of the plant are of two kinds. One has both the male and female parts, while the other staminate flower has only the stamens. These plants are self-pollinating, largely pollinated by the wind.
An interesting adaptation of this plant is that it will not set fruit unless there are others of its kind nearby. If the other trees are incompatible, the tree does not bear fruit.