The Mission olive tree is a cultivar developed in California, by Spanish missions along El Camino Real in the late 18th century.
They were brought to California by Franciscan monks who planted them around the missions they founded. The tree has ornamental value as a specimen plant; it eventually develops a gray-barked trunk with an almost sculptural, gnarled and knobby quality as well as silvery-leaved graceful branches.
It is also the only American olive cultivar listed by the International Olive Council in its World Catalogue of Olive Varieties. Mission boasts one of the smallest pits and greatest cold resistance of any cultivar in California. ‘Mission’ is the variety most used for cold-pressed olive oil in the California olive oil industry.
Mission olives are harvested for table use from late October through November; for oil production, they are harvested between mid-December and February.