- History and Culture
Cassine orientalis is a large tree whose height generally varies between 5 and 10 meters, but some individuals can reach up to 20 meters high. The trunk can reach 90 centimeters in diameter at its base, with long vertical slits all along. This species presents brief heterophylly; its juvenile leaves differ from adults. The juvenile leaves are shiny, narrow with red midribs and a smooth rim, while the adult leaves are broad and oval with a serrated margin.
Bois d’olive is found at multiple elevations, in lowland, intermediate and upland forests. It has small inconspicuous hermaphrodite flowers, containing both staminode and carpellate. The tree’s fruits are part of the diet of Pteropus niger, the Mauritius Flying Fox.
Cassine orientalis is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Historical deforestation and exploitation have reduced the tree’s population. The tree grows in a number of reserves and is used for ecological restoration.
This species has been exploited for its red wood.
The tree takes its name from its small fruit that looks like an olive, but it is not related to the olive tree of Europe whose edible fruit has been consumed worldwide since ancient times.