University of California

Morphological development of the fruit of the olive


J. R. King

Author Affiliations

J. R. King was Histologist, Division of Pomology, University of California, and Agent, Bureau of Plant Industry, United States Department of Agriculture.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 11(8):435-458. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v11n08p435. June 1938.

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Investigations of the olive (Olea europaea L.) have been confined, for the most part, to growth habit, pollination, propagation, physiological requirements, and other horticultural aspects; few studies have been concerned with its morphology. Certain structural features of the flower and fruit have been briefly mentioned in various general sources. (Ruby (1917)) has surveyed varieties of Olea europaea, making physiological and limited morphological observations on both the mature flower and the fruit. (Pirotta (1919)) and (Petri (1920)) studied floral characteristics in relation to field conditions, whereas (Weber (1928)) made extensive comparative morphological investigations on flower types of the Oleaceae. More recently (Andersson (1931)), in his embryological studies of representative forms of the Oleaceae, has traced the development of the macrogametophyte and the early stages following fertilization in Olea, wherein he studied O. chrysophylla and O. europaea.

The investigations here reported are confined to Olea europaea, horticultural variety Mission, and are fourfold in extent, including (1) the development of the flower; (2) the general vascular relations in the flower; (3) the development of the macrogametophyte, in view of Andersson’s work; and (4) the general morphological changes involved in the development of the fruit.


Material was collected every three days from the first appearance of the inflorescence until two days before blooming, then every day for the following two weeks. The time between collections thereafter was gradually increased until maturity of the fruit.

Although several fixatives were tested, a modified Navaschin’s fluid and formalin-acetic-alcohol gave the most satisfactory results with flower buds, while the latter fixative alone was used for young fruits.

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King J. 1938. Morphological development of the fruit of the olive. Hilgardia 11(8):435-458. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v11n08p435
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