Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Wild Olive - Cartrema americanum   (L.) Nesom
Members of Oleaceae:
Only member of Cartrema in NC.
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Section 6 » Family Oleaceae
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Author(L.) Nesom
DistributionMainly coastal, found in all coastal counties except for Currituck, and ranging inland for perhaps 50 miles into the southern Coastal Plain (at least to southeastern Robeson County). A specimen record for Moore County, in the Sandhills, is a non-natural occurrence.

This Southern species ranges north barely to southeastern VA, and south to central FL and LA.
AbundanceCommon within several miles of the coast, in maritime forests. Farther inland, to Robeson County, it is uncommon and local.
HabitatThis is a key component of maritime forest understories. It also grows on sandy “hammock-like" (mostly evergreen) forests farther inland, mainly on old beach ridges or on fluvial sands close to rivers.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis is an easily identified small tree, growing to about 25-30 feet tall. Few other evergreen trees have opposite leaves, these being elliptic to oblanceolate and about 4 inches long and only about 1-inch wide. They are shiny above, quite leathery, with entire margins that are often rolled under. The white to cream-colored flowers are in axillary clusters; however, the dark blue rounded drupes are rather conspicuous in late summer, fall, and occasionally into the winter. People who take walks in maritime forests are quite familiar with this species.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has long been known as Osmanthus americana (or americanus), but recent references have moved the species to a different genus, as Cartrema americanum.

Other Common Name(s)Devilwood, American Olive. Both of these are in rather widespread usage.
State RankS3 [S3S4]
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieNational Park Service Land, Manteo. 30 Apr 2013. DareBIUPhoto_natural
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