Olive Crazy: All About Olives and Olive Oil
Jul 132011

For the last several weeks I’ve made many trips on California’s Interstate 880. For several miles the freeway is lined with block walls, and on the block walls are some sort of vines growing up from the ground in a flat, wedge formation. Extending from the wedge are faintly visible, dried, leafless branches.

One day recently it rained, and the moistened, dry branches were now visible. The effect was beautiful and reminded me of the espaliered fruit trees I saw along walls in small European towns.

Espalier is a technique for growing fruit trees on a flat surface, often a wall or a sturdy mesh. The purpose of espalier is to maximize space, create a microclimate, maximize sun exposure, make harvesting easier, etc. It was very popular in the Middle Ages and is still a great option for growing in small spaces

I did a little internet research on espalier and olive trees. Even though I saw articles claiming that espalier is used commercially in the olive industry, I have not seen actual evidence of it. I have seen where super high density trees are trained along a row line, but the trees still grow three-dimensionally, and the training is not distinct enough to call espalier.

If anyone has seen espaliered olive trees, whether ornamental or for commercial use, I would love to know. A photo would be great too.

May the sun shine through your branches.


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