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Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens (Stretchberry)
Lytle, Melody

Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens

Forestiera pubescens Nutt. var. pubescens

Stretchberry, Elbowbush, Stretch-berry, Downy Forestiera, Desert Olive, Elbow-bush

Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Synonym(s): Forestiera acuminata var. parviflora, Forestiera neomexicana, Forestiera neomexicana var. arizonica, Forestiera pubescens ssp. neomexicana, Forestiera pubescens var. neomexicana, Forestiera sphaerocarpa


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Desert Olive is a multi-branched, deciduous shrub, 4-9 ft. tall, with smooth, gray bark; arched branches; spiny branchlets, and light-green leaves. Flowers are inconspicuous but fragrant. Tiny, blue fruits occur in clusters on the female plants. This is a thicket-forming, deciduous shrub.

This drought-tolerant plant is well-suited for use as a spreading background plant or ground cover where grass won't grow. It is widely adaptable tolerating dry or moist soil, sun or shade.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Shape: Linear
Breeding System: Dioecious
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: 5-10 feet tall.
Leaf: Gray-green, pubescent on both surfaces.
Flower: Sepals in fours or sometimes fives and reduced. Stamens yellow with no petals
Fruit: Black, Blue.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr


USA: AZ , CA , CO , NM , NV , OK , TX , UT
Native Distribution: CO, UT & CA, s. to w. Tex. & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Thickets, Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannas, Woodlands' edge, Opening

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Poor, well-drained soils.


Use Ornamental: Nice gray-green foliage.
Use Wildlife: The plant provides valuable browse and fruit for wildlife and the early blooms are an important source of food for bees. Nectar-insects, Nectar-bees, Nectar-butterflies, Browse, Fruit-birds, Fruit-mammals
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Hairstreaks
Nectar Source: yes


Description: Germinates from untreated seed planted in late March to early April. Roots easily from softwood and semi-hardwood cuttings. Transplanting is easy because of shallow, easily dug roots.
Seed Collection: Harvest fruit when it has turned dark purple in late summer. Air dry seeds with or without pulp. Store in ventilated bags or containers in cool, dry place.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary, although one month stratification may improve results.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-204 Collected 2008-05-12 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Forestiera pubescens var. pubescens


Record Modified: 2023-04-19
Research By: TMH

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