South Africa home to a variety of olive cultivars

Olives and olive oils are fast becoming a staple of South African dinner tables and kitchens but, as with most culinary treats, all things are not as equal as they seem. This country’s rich soil has become home to several fine varieties – or ‘cultivars’ as they are known – of fruit yielding olive tree. These produce many of the high quality oils and table olives you can find on supermarket shelves right now, and below is a rough guide to some of the most common olive cultivars found in South Africa.


This is currently South Africa’s most popular cultivar. It is highly adaptable and dual-purpose as it produces both table olives and oil. The fruit bears early, but ripens late, and is firm even when ripe. This American cultivar produces both black and green olives, although its oil yield is often lower than other cultivars at 12-16%.


This is the ideal black table olive, and its oil content is lower than Mission. This cultivar originated in Greece, south of the Peloponnese, and demand for the olives it produces is growing internationally. The olives are harvested ripe and processed naturally in brine so the flesh retains its characteristically firm quality.