Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: New Mexican Privet, Desert Olive
Forestiera neomexicana

Family: Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Forestiera (for-es-STEER-uh) (Info)
Species: neomexicana (nee-oh-meks-ih-KAY-nuh) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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1 positive
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive sladeofsky On Jan 21, 2015, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

An extremely adaptable plant from the American West. It is not a true Privet, but can be used in the same ways and is a good replacement for that invasive plant. Desert Olive, (let's not insult it by calling it Privet) is extremely drought tolerant, but young plants should be irrigated for 3 years to help it establish. Although it grows in very dry conditions it can also grow in wetter soils and so is probably grow able in much of the temperate world. It can be trimmed into a hedge, shaped as a large shrub, or trained into a small tree. It has edible berries (though I've not had them). It also has great fall color and may be used as a (smaller) replacement for Aspens in areas too hot or dry for the latter.
NOTE: like Hollies, if you want fruit/berries, you will need at least one male plant as a pollinator and fruit will only appear on female plants. Hopefully, someday, male and female clones will be offered. But as this plant has been so overlooked in the trade, you may do better to grow several from seed to increase your chances of having plants of each sex.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tucson, Arizona
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Socorro, New Mexico
La Grange, Texas
Kinnear, Wyoming
Laramie, Wyoming
Pavillion, Wyoming
Riverton, Wyoming

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