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Anna, Teacher, writer, biologist
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OLIVE TREE....certified arborist handy!?? I live in southern

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OLIVE TREE....certified arborist handy!??

I live in southern Calif---
I had a huge Olive tree cut down, chipped, stump grinded,roots removed,
etc months ago,,,but I think it is starting to "come back"!!! Sprouts are coming up thru
the ground, from old roots, maybe 1-2 feet deep. I found this on web:

"No matter what the conditions: hot, dry, cold, wet, rocky, or sandy, the olive tree will live
and produce fruit. It is said that you can never kill an olive tree. Even when cut down or
burned, new shoots will emerge from its roots."

Question is: as this tree "is being reborn", what are the ROOTS below ground doing? Are they
"staying in place" or still "moving OUTWARD and/or downward"!?? Could/will the roots
continue to grow, larger and work their way to new undeground areas!? THIS is a problem i.e.,
if they can SPREAD, even now, after tree was (we thought!) dead and gone!

This may be a huge problem for me, I need all the advice/knowledge I can get!! thanx! bob
Hello Bob,

I'm sorry you're having this problem. I'm not a certified arborist, but rather, a biologist, and I can help you. If you'd like me to, some additional information will be useful.

Have you cut off the new sprouts, or are they still there?

Are you able to get to the roots, or are they down too far?

What is growing int he area where the tree was: grass, landscape plants, etc.?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Several clusters are growing up thru the top soil, some i cut some i left there. They seem to be growing out of the trees roots, about a foot down. This tree had a "base" (after it was cut down) about4 x 6 ft! The cutter crew

ground it down as far and as much as they do, but a lot of the remains seem to be near the surface. I can see the roots, by just digging for a min or two,,,,so I can get to some, but not to others. Nothing is growing where the tree was, its still just bare, a 10 x 20 ft area, like it was months ago. I noticed the new growth right after a week of rain----are they seeking out the sun i wonder!? I only worry that the roots are rejuvinating and might start growing/expanding again,,,moving under my driveway on one side and into the neighbors yard on the other---could these roots still be there LOOKING FOR WATER!? im still looking for answers, in the bye I found this:


Biology of an Olive Tree. By Sandy Lang !!


I thought -you-- might find this (above) interesting!!! --bob



Thank you for getting back to me, Bob. An olive tree can certainly be killed. The saying about them is usually used in a religious context, to demonstrate perseverance.That being said, an olive tree is not easy to kill. Like many other kinds of trees, cutting them down or burning them off will result in sprouts coming up from the roots. Food for the tree is produced in the leaves, so if you leave the sprouts to grow, the roots will be fed, and may spread.

There are two methods that will work to kill the tree. One is to use a powerful herbicide - one that will kill brambles or poison ivy. round up makes one. this si not the regular Roundup; that's not strong enough. Look for brush killer or poison ivy formula. Let the sprouts grow some leaves, then spray them. These are systemic sprays that will work down to the roots. As long as more sprouts keep coming up, continue spraying. If you can reach some roots, you can speed up the process. Use a drill to make holes in the roots, then pour herbicide in the holes. Just pouring it on the roots will also get some in, but not as effectively as if you drill holes. I would also pour some on what is left of the stump.

If you don't like to use herbicides, there is another way that also works, but not as quickly. The roots need to use their stored food to produce shoots. Let the roots waste their food by sending up sprouts until they are a couple feet tall, then cut them off. If the ground is not too rough, you can use a riding mower to make this easier. You'll have to do this over and over, but each time you do it, you are weakening the roots. Eventually, the stored nutrients will be gone and the roots will die.

I have used both methods, but not with olive trees, since it's too cold where I live. I used the lopping off the sprouts method to kill a persistent plum tree. New sprouts came up 30 feet from the original tree, which broke off in a storm. It took two years of mowing before the tree finally died. I have used herbicides on black walnut, mulberry, silver maple, green ash, and wild cherry that were growing in an area where I didn't want trees. After cutting them, I usually have to spray twice to eliminate all sprouts, but after that the trees have been dead.

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I wish you success.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Unfortunately, out this way, it is near impossible to even get a good strong herbicide, let alone, use it,,,,I will ask my tree guy, but I am not hopeful of this. So it looks like the keep-after-the-sprouts method is only choice,and the area the tree was in will have to be kept clear (no replant of anything there) to allow access. Try explaining THAT to your POA who dictate what your front yard should/must look like! But they dont have to pay 1000s in

plumbing (water in and sewer repair) to keep the neighbor happy! This tree "came with the house" 30 years ago, and only start getting "mean" a year ago. I didnt want it! Your info has been much better than any "arborist" I have dealt with, a lot of them here, I find, "talk" a good fix, but dont actually like to get to the nitty-gritty of the problem. I will wait for any further words you may have, then will accept, and pay. thanx.


It sounds like you have a very frustrating situation. so many times, people don't think about where they are planting a tree, and 20 or 30 years down the road, it causes a problem like this. If you can't get a herbicide, then cutting the sprouts repeatedly will be the only thing to do. There are organic approved herbicides, but they aren't strong enough to work on tree sprouts. Saturating the area with a strong solution of water and salt may speed up the process, but once you have that salt in the soil, it will be years before anything else will grow there. I'm sure your POA wouldn't approve of that. I'm sorry that there is no easy solution, but if simply let the sprouts grow, you'll soon have a number of large olive 'shrubs' and roots spreading all over the place.

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