Sources for Interesting Perennial Crops

A fruitless search for a fruiting olive tree caused an existential crisis here at the Root Simple compound. With a few exceptions, most nurseries in Los Angeles cater to the mow and blow set. You’re more likely to find parts for your leaf blower and a flat of petunias than anything worth growing. Good luck finding olives.

In the midst of my frustration I stumbled upon a interesting list, put together by the USDA, of retail nurseries and perennial crop resources. You can view that list here. Here’s three sources I found particularly interesting from that list:

California Rare Fruit Growers Member Nurseries and fruit sources
CRFG members are always on the hunt for interesting varieties of fruits. Note that this list of nurseries covers the entire US, not just California.

Permaculture Activist plant sources
The website is somewhat of a graphic design nightmare, but if you’re looking for unusual edible perennials, this would be the place to start.

Hop Roots – where to get them… 
Hoptacular! A list of hops nurseries from the Oregon State Hops Commision.

Also note that the USDA maintains a huge collection of fruit trees, nut trees and many other crops at thirty-two federally funded repositories around the United States. At least one of those facilities, the National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Fruit and Nut Crops in Davis, CA, will send out scion wood when available (researchers get first dibs). They appreciate a Fed Ex number so they don’t have to pay for shipping. Of course you have to know how to graft and be ready with root stock.

Now if you can help me find a source of olive trees other than arbequinain Southern California, please leave a comment!

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  1. Ooo sorry, I tend to order my fruit trees online.. I’ve given up on finding anything remotely interesting in LA nurseries when it comes to edibles. Are you familiar with One Green World? Seems they only have two varieties though. There’s also a fellow that sells seedlings and fruit saplings at the Santa Monica and Hollywood farmer markets, Jimmy and his son, Logan – I can’t say I’ve seen them carry olive trees, but they’ve had neat fig trees, south moon and star blueberries, etc. and really wonderful heirloom vege. They might know where to get them. I’ve also seen some of the farmers at the Santa Monica Market selling green olives for you to cure yourself, the season might be around now if you want to ask them what cultivars they have.

  2. We live on the Central Coast and there are a lot of folks who plant olive groves on their small acreage. I’ll bet any nursery here in the Paso Robles area would know where to get them, as so many people have them, and they ARE the kind that sets fruit. Good luck!

  3. You might try Sego Nursery, last year Scott Kleinrock recommended the Parfianka Pomegranate and Sego was the only place I found it. They are quite friendly and had a greater diversity of fruit trees than other nurseries I’ve been to. Many of their trees are from Dave Wilson. Strangely enough last year I saw a few bareroot non-arbequina olives in bins outside of OSH (burbank). I think one was leccino.

    Sego Nursery
    12126 Burbank Boulevard
    Valley Village, CA 91607

  4. I don’t know if this helps, but here in N. CA there are lots of olive trees and nursery’s with many varieties. I bought a small mission olive tree in a pot at a winery…Cline cellars in Sonoma.
    They are part of a non-profit group who have been reviving old mission gardens, and they have been cultivating saplings from old mission olive trees. It seemed like a worthy project and the price was right ($35.00) You might look into one of the missions down your way, as they might either have the cuttings, or the info about the organization.

    • All the good stuff is up North! I’ve visited nurseries in Sonoma that have made me weep with pleasure. I don’t know why we have such limited resources down here. It’s pathetic, really, considering we have this outstanding growing climate. Here you have to dig and dig for anything good. Good tip about the missions.

  5. But aren’t you worried about the olive fruit fly that’s so pervasive throughout California? My understanding is that us home-growers don’t have too many options to prevent, but commercial orchards have a lot bigger, er, arsenal of pesticides (including organic ones). Have you tried calling one of the olive companies down near you and inquiring about saplings – the Santa Barbara Olive company and Graber Olives come to mind…

    • Hi Rena, I used to be worried about the olive fruit fly until I attended a lecture by Paul Vossen of UC Cooperative Extension. Vossen suggested a few options including bait traps and kaolin clay. You can read more about organic olive management here:

      Also, I want an olive tree mainly for ornamental value. If I get any fruit that will be icing on the cake. And thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Did you try your local Cooperative Extension for a resource? They usually can provide that info plus all the growing/insect/diseases you could ever need. Plus – as it’s part of the State University system it’s paid for with your taxes and all the info is usually free!!

  7. Hi Erik – we got our fruiting olive tree at Boething Tree Land in Woodland Hills. It’s some kind of European olive. I don’t know the cultivar – I wasn’t really interested in fruit when I bought it, just size for the money. This was a few years ago, but they had several different types and sizes. This is a big operation, I’m sure they still carry a variety. The folks were very nice, too. I just bought a black mission fig and 3 blackberry vines from them.

  8. This is not local, but I have bought directly from Rolling River Nursery (listed on CRFG Nursery list) when I lived near them. They are good people, and they always had reasonable plants for the prices. They have their nursery and homestead in the non urban sense. I have never mail ordered from them, but they do have a good selection of olives, pomegranates, and other rare/ odd fruiting bushes, shrubs, and trees.
    Good luck on your olive search.

  9. It’s a bit of a drive for you, but when I lived in Riverside, Parkview Nurseries had a selection of fruiting olives. Hopefully you can find something closer though.

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