Olive

Olive

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Olive'
Start a new discussion about 'Olive'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The olive Olea europaea), is a species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of a small tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

 in the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Oleaceae
Oleaceae
Oleaceae are a family containing 24 extant genera and around 600 species of mesophytic shrubs, trees and occasionally vines. As shrubs, members of this family may be twine climbers, or scramblers.-Leaves:...

, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin
Mediterranean Basin
In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

 (the adjoining coastal areas of southeastern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa) as well as northern Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 at the south end of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

.

Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

. The tree and its fruit give its name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilacs, jasmine
Jasmine
Jasminum , commonly known as jasmines, is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family . It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the Old World...

, Forsythia
Forsythia
Forsythia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae . There are about 11 species, mostly native to eastern Asia, but one native to southeastern Europe. The common name is also Forsythia; the genus is named after William Forsyth.-Growth:They are deciduous shrubs typically growing to a...

and the true ash trees (Fraxinus). The word derives from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 olīva which in turn comes from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 ἐλαία (elaía) ultimately from Mycenaean Greek
Mycenaean language
Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, spoken on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in the 16th to 12th centuries BC, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion which was often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece...

  𐀁𐀨𐀷 e-ra-wa ("elaiva"), attested in Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 syllabic script. The word 'oil' in multiple languages ultimately derives from the name of this tree and its fruit.

Description


The olive tree, Olea europaea, is an evergreen
Evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 tree or shrub
Shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

 native to the Mediterranean, Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 m (26.2–49.2 ft) in height. The silvery green leaves
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 are oblong in shape, measuring 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long and 1–3 cm (0.393700787401575–1.2 in) wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.

The small white, feathery flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s, with ten-cleft calyx
Sepal
A sepal is a part of the flower of angiosperms . Collectively the sepals form the calyx, which is the outermost whorl of parts that form a flower. Usually green, sepals have the typical function of protecting the petals when the flower is in bud...

 and corolla
Petal
Petals are modified leaves that surround the reproductive parts of flowers. They often are brightly colored or unusually shaped to attract pollinators. Together, all of the petals of a flower are called a corolla. Petals are usually accompanied by another set of special leaves called sepals lying...

, two stamen
Stamen
The stamen is the pollen producing reproductive organ of a flower...

s and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the last year's wood, in raceme
Raceme
A raceme is a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and indeterminate and bears pedicellate flowers — flowers having short floral stalks called pedicels — along the axis. In botany, axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. In a raceme, the oldest flowers are borne...

s springing from the axils of the leaves.

The fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 is a small drupe
Drupe
In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a shell of hardened endocarp with a seed inside. These fruits develop from a single carpel, and mostly from flowers with superior ovaries...

 1–2.5 cm (0.393700787401575–0.984251968503937 in) long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage. Canned black olives may contain chemicals (usually ferrous sulfate) that turn them black artificially.

Olea europaea contains a seed commonly referred to as a pit or a rock.

Nutritional information


100g of green olives contains:
  • Calories :145
  • Fat(g): 15.32
  • Carbohydrates(g): 3.84
  • Fibers(g): 3.3
  • Protein(g): 1.03
  • Cholesterol(mg): 0

Paleobotany


The place, time and immediate ancestry of the cultivated olive are unknown. It is assumed that Olea europaea may have arisen from O. chrysophylla in northern tropical Africa and that it was introduced into the countries of the Mediterranean Basin via Egypt and then Crete or Israel, Syria and Asia Minor. Fossil Olea
Olea
Olea is a genus of about 40 species in the family Oleaceae, native to warm temperate and tropical regions of southern Europe, Africa, southern Asia and Australasia. They are evergreen trees and shrubs, with small, opposite, entire leaves...

 pollen has been found in Macedonia, Greece, and other places around Mediterranean, indicating that this genus is an original element of the Mediterranean flora. Fossilized leaves of Olea were found in the palaeosols of the volcanic Greek island of Santorini
Santorini
Santorini , officially Thira , is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea, about southeast from Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera...

 (Thera) and were dated about 37.000 B.P. Inprints of larvae of olive whitefly Aleurolobus (Aleurodes) olivinus were found on the leaves. The same insect is commonly found today on olive leaves, showing that the plant-animal co-evolutionary relations have not changed since that time.

History



The olive is one of the plants most often cited in western literature. In Homer's Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 crawls beneath two shoots of olive that grow from a single stock, and in the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, (XVII.53ff) is a metaphoric description of a lone olive tree in the mountains, by a spring; the Greeks observed that the olive rarely thrives at a distance from the sea, which in Greece invariably means up mountain slopes. Greek myth attributed to the primordial culture-hero Aristaeus
Aristaeus
A minor god in Greek mythology, which we read largely through Athenian writers, Aristaeus or Aristaios , "ever close follower of the flocks", was the culture hero credited with the discovery of many useful arts, including bee-keeping; he was the son of Apollo and the huntress Cyrene...

 the understanding of olive husbandry, along with cheese-making and bee-keeping. Olive was one of the woods used to fashion the most primitive Greek cult figures, called xoana
Xoanon
A xoanon was an Archaic wooden cult image of Ancient Greece. Classical Greeks associated such cult objects, whether aniconic or effigy, with the legendary Daedalus. Many such cult images were preserved into historical times, though none have survived to the modern day, except where their image...

, referring to their wooden material; they were reverently preserved for centuries. It was purely a matter of local pride that the Athenians claimed that the olive grew first in Athens. In an archaic Athenian foundation myth, Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 won the patronship of Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

 from Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 with the gift of the olive. Though, according to the 4th-century BC father of botany, Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

, olive trees ordinarily attained an age of about 200 years, he mentions that the very olive tree of Athena still grew on the Acropolis
Acropolis
Acropolis means "high city" in Greek, literally city on the extremity and is usually translated into English as Citadel . For purposes of defense, early people naturally chose elevated ground to build a new settlement, frequently a hill with precipitous sides...

; it was still to be seen there in the 2nd century AD; and when Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 was shown it, ca 170 AD, he reported "Legend also says that when the Persians fired Athens the olive was burnt down, but on the very day it was burnt it grew again to the height of two cubit
Cubit
The cubit is a traditional unit of length, based on the length of the forearm. Cubits of various lengths were employed in many parts of the world in Antiquity, in the Middle Ages and into Early Modern Times....

s." Indeed, olive suckers sprout readily from the stump, and the great age of some existing olive trees shows that it was perfectly possible that the olive tree of the Acropolis dated to the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

. The olive was sacred to Athena and appeared on the Athenian coinage.

The Roman poet Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

 mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "As for me, olives, endive
Endive
Endive , Cichorium endivia, is a leaf vegetable belonging to the daisy family. Endive can be cooked or used raw in salads.-Background:Endive is also a common name for some types of chicory...

s, and smooth mallow
Althaea (genus)
Althaea is a genus of 6-12 species of perennial herbs native to Europe and western Asia. It includes Althaea officinalis, also known as the marshmallow plant, whence the fluffy confection got its name. They are found on the banks of rivers and in salt marshes, preferring moist, sandy soils. The...

s provide sustenance." Lord Monboddo comments on the olive in 1779 as one of the foods preferred by the ancients and as one of the most perfect foods.

The leafy branches of the olive tree - the olive leaf
Olive leaf
Olive leaf is the leaf of the olive tree . While olive oil is well known for its flavor and health benefits, the leaf has been used medicinally in various times and places. Natural olive leaf and olive leaf extracts , are now marketed as an anti-aging, immunostimulator and an antibiotic...

 as a symbol of abundance, glory and peace - were used to crown the victors of friendly games and bloody wars. As emblems of benediction and purification, they were also ritually offered to deities and powerful figures; some were even found in Tutankhamen's tomb.

Olive oil has long been considered sacred; it was used to anoint kings and athletes in ancient Greece. It was burnt in the sacred lamps of temples as well as being the "eternal flame" of the original Olympic Games. Victors in these games were crowned with its leaves. Today, it is still used in many religious ceremonies.

Over the years, the olive has been the symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and pureness. The olive tree and olives are mentioned over 30 times in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, in both the New
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 and Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

s. It is one of the first plants mentioned in the Bible, and one of the most significant. For example, it was an olive leaf that a dove brought back to Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

 to demonstrate that the flood was over. The Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge in East Jerusalem with three peaks running from north to south. The highest, at-Tur, rises to 818 meters . It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes...

 east of Jerusalem is mentioned several times. The Allegory of the Olive Tree in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

 (which reappears in greatly expanded form in the Book of Jacob
Book of Jacob
The Book of Jacob is the third book of the Book of Mormon. Its full title is The Book of Jacob: The Brother of Nephi. According to the text, it was written by the ancient prophet Jacob, brother of the prophet Nephi, believed to have lived during the 6th century BC.While this book contains some...

 in the Book of Mormon) refers to the scattering and gathering of Israel. It compares the Israelites and gentiles to tame and wild olive trees. The olive tree itself, as well as olive oil and olives, play an important role in the Bible.

The olive tree and olive oil are mentioned seven times in the Quran, and the olive is praised as a precious fruit. Most notably, it is mentioned in one of the most famous verses of the Quran, Ayat an-Nur
Ayat an-Nur
The Ayat an-Nur is the 35th line of the 24th sura of the Qur'an, Sura an-Nur. The verse is renowned for its remarkable beauty and imagery, and perhaps more than any other verse lends itself to mystical or esoteric readings of the Qur'an...

: "Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The metaphor of His Light is that of a niche in which is a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, the glass like a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, its oil all but giving off light even if no fire touches it. Light upon Light. Allah guides to His Light whoever He wills and Allah makes metaphors for mankind and Allah has knowledge of all things." (Quran, 24:35). Olive tree and olive oil health benefits have been propounded in Prophetic medicine. The Prophet Mohamed is reported to have said: "Take oil of olive and massage with it - it is a blessed tree" (Sunan al-Darimi, 69:103).

The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean region and Western Asia, and spread to nearby countries from there. It is estimated the cultivation of olive trees began more than 7000 years ago. As far back as 3000 BC, olives were grown commercially in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

; they may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan civilization
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

. The ancient Greeks used to smear olive oil on their bodies and hair as a matter of grooming and good health.

Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

, in On the Nature of Plants, does not give as systematic and detailed an account of olive husbandry as he does of the vine
Vine
A vine in the narrowest sense is the grapevine , but more generally it can refer to any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent, that is to say climbing, stems or runners...

, but he makes clear (in 1.16.10) that the cultivated olive must be vegetatively propagated; indeed, the pits give rise to thorny, wild-type olives, spread far and wide by birds. Theophrastus reports how the bearing olive can be grafted on the wild olive, for which the Greeks had a separate name, kotinos.

After the 16th century, the Europeans brought the olive to the New World, and its cultivation began in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina, and then in the 18th century in California. It is estimated that there are about 800 million olive trees in the world today, and the vast majority of these are found in Mediterranean countries.

Old olive trees




The olive tree, Olea europaea, is very hardy: drought-, disease- and fire-resistant, it can live to a great age. Its root system is robust and capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed. The older an olive tree is, the broader and more gnarled its trunk appears. Many olive trees in the groves around the Mediterranean are said to be hundreds of years old, while an age of 2,000 years is claimed for a number of individual trees; in some cases, this has been scientifically verified.

Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 told about a sacred Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 olive tree that was 1,600 years old. An olive tree in west Athens, named "Plato's Olive Tree", was said to be a remnant of the grove within which Plato's Academy
Platonic Academy
The Academy was founded by Plato in ca. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for twenty years before founding his own school, the Lyceum. The Academy persisted throughout the Hellenistic period as a skeptical school, until coming to an end after the death of Philo of Larissa in 83 BC...

 was situated, which would make it approximately 2,400 years old. The tree comprised a cavernous trunk from which a few branches were still sprouting in 1975, when a traffic accident caused a bus to fall on and uproot it. Since then, the trunk has been preserved and displayed in the nearby Agricultural University of Athens
Agricultural University of Athens
The Agricultural University of Athens is located in Athens, at the neighborhood of Votanikos.-Location:The University is located on the alluvian plain of the Kifisos river. Its address is 75 Iera Odos. It is bordered by Kavalas avenue, Spyrou Patsi Street, the bus depot of AUTO, and the FAGE factory...

. A supposedly older tree, the "Peisistratos Tree", is located by the banks of the Cephisus River, in the municipality of Agioi Anargyroi
Agioi Anargyroi
Agioi Anargyroi is a suburb in the northern part of Athens, Greece, named for Saints Cosmas and Damian...

, and is said to be a remnant of an olive grove that was planted by Athenian tyrant Peisistratos in the 6th century BC. Numerous ancient olive trees also exist near Pelion
Pelion
Pelion or Pelium is a mountain at the southeastern part of Thessaly in central Greece, forming a hook-like peninsula between the Pagasetic Gulf and the Aegean Sea...

 in Greece.

An olive tree in Algarve, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, is 2000 years old, according to radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

.

The age of an olive tree in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, claimed to be over 2,000 years old, has been confirmed on the basis of tree ring analysis
Dendrochronology
Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree-rings. Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year...

.

An olive tree in Bar, Montenegro
Bar, Montenegro
Bar is a coastal town in Montenegro. It has a population of 17,727...

, is claimed to be over 2,000 years old.

An olive tree on the island of Brijuni
Brijuni
The Brijuni or the Brijuni Islands are a group of fourteen small islands in the Croatian part of the northern Adriatic Sea, separated from the west coast of the Istrian peninsula by the narrow Fažana Strait...

 (Brioni), Istria
Istria
Istria , formerly Histria , is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic between the Gulf of Trieste and the Bay of Kvarner...

 in Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, has been calculated to be about 1,600 years old. It still gives fruit (about 30 kg (66.1 lb) per year), which is made into top quality olive oil.

The town of Bshaale, Lebanon claims to have the oldest olive trees in the world (4000 BC for the oldest), but no scientific study supports these claims. Other trees in the towns of Amioun
Amioun
Amioun in and other scripts of the name, are most probably transliterated from the original Amyūn. It is the capital town of the predominantly Greek Orthodox area Koura District in the North of Lebanon.-Name:...

 appear to be at least 1,500 years old.

According to a recent scientific survey, there are dozens of ancient olive trees throughout Israel and Biblical Palestine, 1,600-2,000 years old. Ancient trees include two giant olive trees in the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 town of Arraba
Arraba
Arraba is Israel's fourth largest local council and largest Israeli Arab local council. It is located in the Lower Galilee in the North District, to the north of Nazareth and adjacent to Sakhnin and Deir Hanna...

 and five trees in Deir Hanna
Deir Hanna
Deir Hanna is a local council in the North District of Israel, located on the hills of the Lower Galilee, southeast of Acre. At the end of 2005, the town had a population of 8,500 approximately 80% of them being Muslims and the remaining 20% being Christian....

, both in the Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 region, which have been determined to be over 3,000 years old, although the credibility of the study that produced these dates has been questioned. All seven trees continue to produce olives.

Several trees in the Garden of Gethsemane (from the Hebrew words "gat shemanim" or olive press) in Jerusalem are claimed to date back to the time of Jesus.

Some Italian olive trees are believed to date back to Roman times, although identifying progenitor trees in ancient sources is difficult. A tree located in Santu Baltolu di Carana (municipality of Luras
Luras
Luras is a comune in the Province of Olbia-Tempio in the Italian region Sardinia, located about 190 km north of Cagliari and about 25 km west of Olbia...

) in Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, named with respect as the Ozzastru by the inhabitants of the region, is claimed to be 3,000 to 4,000 years old according to different studies. There are several other trees of about 1,000 years old within the same garden. The XV sec. trees of Olivo della Linza located in Alliste province of Lecce
Province of Lecce
The Province of Lecce is a province in the Apulia region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Lecce. Totally included in the Salento peninsula, it is the second most populous province in Apulia and the twenty-first most populous in Italy....

 in Puglia were noted by Bishop Ludovico de Pennis during his pastoral visit to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nardò-Gallipoli
Roman Catholic Diocese of Nardò-Gallipoli
The diocese of Nardò-Gallipoli is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territory in southern Italy. Created on January 13, 1413, it is a suffragan of the archdiocese of Lecce.The current bishop is Domenico Caliandro.-External links:* *...

 in 1452.

Cultivation and uses



The olive tree, Olea europaea, has been cultivated for olive oil
Olive oil
Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive , a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps...

, fine wood, olive leaf
Olive leaf
Olive leaf is the leaf of the olive tree . While olive oil is well known for its flavor and health benefits, the leaf has been used medicinally in various times and places. Natural olive leaf and olive leaf extracts , are now marketed as an anti-aging, immunostimulator and an antibiotic...

, and the olive fruit. The earliest evidence for the domestication of olives comes from the Chalcolithic Period
Copper Age
The Chalcolithic |stone]]") period or Copper Age, also known as the Eneolithic/Æneolithic , is a phase of the Bronze Age in which the addition of tin to copper to form bronze during smelting remained yet unknown by the metallurgists of the times...

 archaeological site of Teleilat Ghassul in what is today modern Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

.

Farmers in ancient times believed olive trees would not grow well if planted more than a short distance from the sea; Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

 gives 300 stadia
Stadion (unit of length)
The stadion, Latinized as stadium and anglicized as stade, is an ancient Greek unit of length. According to Herodotus, one stade is equal to 600 feet. However, there were several different lengths of “feet”, depending on the country of origin....

 (55.6 km (34.5 mi)) as the limit. Modern experience does not always confirm this, and, though showing a preference for the coast, they have long been grown further inland in some areas with suitable climates, particularly in the southwestern Mediterranean (Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, northwest Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

) where winters are mild.

Olives are now cultivated in many regions of the world with Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

s, such as South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and in areas with temperate climates such as New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, under irrigation in the Cuyo
Cuyo (Argentina)
Cuyo is the name given to the wine-producing, mountainous area of central-west Argentina. Historically it comprised the provinces of San Juan, San Luis and Mendoza. The term New Cuyo is a modern one, which indicates both Cuyo proper and the province of La Rioja...

 region in Argentina which has a desert climate. They are also grown in the Córdoba Province, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, which has a temperate climate with rainy summers and dry winters (Cwa). The climate in Argentina changes the external characteristics of the plant but the fruit keeps its original features.

Considerable research supports the health-giving benefits of consuming olives, olive leaf and olive oil (see external links below for research results). Olive leaves are used in medicinal teas.

Olives are now being looked at for use as a renewable energy source, using waste produced from the olive plants as an energy source that produces 2.5 times the energy generated by burning the same amount of wood. The same reference claims that the smoke released has no negative impact on neighbors or the environment, and the ash left in the stove can be used for fertilizing gardens and plants. The process has been patented in the Middle East and the US (for example).

Subspecies


There are six natural subspecies of Olea europaea distributed over a wide range:
  • Olea europaea subsp. europaea (Mediterranean Basin)
  • Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata
    Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata
    Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata is a subspecies of olive previously described as Olea cuspidata and Olea africana. It is has various local common names, including African olive, wild olive, iron tree, Indian olive or zambujeiro da India....

     (from South Africa throughout East Africa, Arabia to South West China)
  • Olea europaea subsp. guanchica (Canaries)
  • Olea europaea subsp. cerasiformis (Madeira)
  • Olea europaea subsp. maroccana Morocco
    Morocco
    Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

  • Olea europaea subsp. laperrinei (Algeria, Sudan, Niger)

The subspecies maroccana and cerasiformis are respectively hexaploid and tetraploid.

Cultivars



There are thousands of cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s of the Olea europaea olive tree. In Italy alone at least three hundred cultivars have been enumerated, but only a few are grown to a large extent. None of these can be accurately identified with ancient descriptions, though it is not unlikely that some of the narrow-leaved cultivars most esteemed may be descendants of the Licinian olive. The Iberian
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 olives are usually cured and eaten, often after being pitted, stuffed (with pickled pimento
Pimento
A pimento or cherry pepper is a variety of large, red, heart-shaped chili pepper that measures 3 to 4 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide . The flesh of the pimento is sweet, succulent and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper...

, anchovies, or other fillings) and packed in brine in jars or tins. Some also pickle olives at home.

Since many cultivars are self sterile or nearly so, they are generally planted in pairs with a single primary cultivar and a secondary cultivar selected for its ability to fertilize the primary one. In recent times, efforts have been directed at producing hybrid cultivars with qualities such as resistance to disease, quick growth and larger or more consistent crops.

Some particularly important cultivars of Olea europaea include:
  • Amfissa is an excellent quality Greek table olive grown in Amfissa
    Amfissa
    Amfissa is a town and a former municipality in Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is also the capital of the regional unit of Phocis...

    , Central Greece
    Central Greece
    Continental Greece or Central Greece , colloquially known as Roúmeli , is a geographical region of Greece. Its territory is divided into the administrative regions of Central Greece, Attica, and part of West Greece...

     near the oracle of Delphi
    Delphi
    Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

    . Amfissa olives enjoy protected designation of origin
    Protected designation of origin
    Protected Geographical Status is a legal framework defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. Protected Designation of Origin , Protected Geographical Indication and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed are distinct regimes of geographical indications within the framework...

     (PDO) status, and are equally good for olive oil extraction. The olive grove of Amfissa, which consists of 1,200,000 olive trees is a part of a protected natural landscape.
  • Arbequina
    Arbequina
    Arbequina is a cultivar of olives. The fruit is highly aromatic, small, symmetrical and dark brown, with a rounded apex and a broad peduncular cavity. In Europe, it is mostly grown in Catalonia, Spain, where it occupies 55,000 hectares, but it is also grown in in Aragon and Andalusia, as well as...

    is a small, brown olive grown in Aragon
    Aragon
    Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

     and Catalonia
    Catalonia
    Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

    , Spain, good for eating and for oil.
  • Barnea is a modern dual-purpose cultivar bred in Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

     to be disease-resistant and to produce a generous crop. The oil has a strong flavour with a hint of green leaf. Barnea is widely grown in Israel and in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Bosana
    Bosana
    The Bosana is the most common cultivar of olives in Sardinia. It makes up over 50% of the olive production on the island. The etymology of the name is uncertain, but it could refer to an alleged origin in the territory of Bosa. It is maintained, however, that the cultivar is of Spanish origin. It...

    is the most common olive grown on Sardinia. It is used mostly for oils.
  • Cornicabra, originating in Toledo, Spain
    Toledo, Spain
    Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

    , comprises about 12% of Spain's production. It is mainly used for oil.
  • Empeltre, from Pedrola, Aragon
    Aragon
    Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

    , a medium-sized black olive grown in Spain. Especially in Aragon and the Balearic Islands, it is also dual-purpose.
  • Frantoio and Leccino cultivars are the principal raw material for Italian olive oils from Tuscany. Leccino has a mild sweet flavour, while Frantoio is fruity with a stronger aftertaste. Due to their highly valued flavour, these cultivars are now grown in other countries.
  • Gemlik is a variety from the Gemlik
    Gemlik
    Gemlik is a harbor town bordering the Sea of Marmara in Western Turkey, at approximately 29 kilometres from Bursa and not far from Istanbul. Gemlik was called Kios until 1922 when its Greek inhabitants left Asia Minor because of the population exchange. In2004, Gemlik had approximately 70,000...

     area of northern Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

    . They are small to medium sized black olives with a high oil content. This type of olive is very common in Turkey and is sold as a breakfast olive in the cured formats of either Yagli Sele, Salamura or Duble, though there are other less common curings. The sign of a traditionally cured Gemlik olive is that the flesh comes away from the pit easily.
  • Hojiblanca
    Hojiblanca
    Hojiblanca is a type of olive used for the production of olive oil. It represents 16% of the olive production in Andalucia and is grown mainly in the Spanish provinces of Seville, Cordoba and northern Málaga. It is collected late in the season , which leads to a lower production rate...

    originated in the province of Córdoba, Spain; its oil is widely appreciated for its slightly bitter flavour.
  • Kalamata
    Kalamata (olive)
    The Kalamata olive is a large, black olive with a smooth, meaty texture named after the city of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese, Greece. Often used as a table olive, they are usually preserved in wine vinegar or olive oil. Kalamata olives enjoy PDO status....

    , a large, black olive with a smooth and meatlike taste, is named after the city of Kalamata
    Kalamata
    Kalamata is the second-largest city of the Peloponnese in southern Greece. The capital and chief port of the Messenia prefecture, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf...

    , Greece
    Greece
    Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

    , and is used as a table olive. These olives are usually preserved in wine, vinegar or olive oil. Kalamata olives enjoy PDO
    Protected Geographical Status
    Protected Geographical Status is a legal framework defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. Protected Designation of Origin , Protected Geographical Indication and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed are distinct regimes of geographical indications within the framework...

     status.
  • Koroneiki originated from the southern Peloponese, around Kalamata
    Kalamata
    Kalamata is the second-largest city of the Peloponnese in southern Greece. The capital and chief port of the Messenia prefecture, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf...

     and Mani
    Mani Peninsula
    The Mani Peninsula , also long known as Maina or Maïna, is a geographical and cultural region in Greece. Mani is the central peninsula of the three which extend southwards from the Peloponnese in southern Greece. To the east is the Laconian Gulf, to the west the Messenian Gulf...

     in Greece. This small olive, though difficult to cultivate, has a high yield of olive oil of exceptional quality.
  • Manzanilla, a large, rounded-oval fruit, with purple-green skin, originated in Dos Hermanas
    Dos Hermanas
    Dos Hermanas is a Spanish city south of Seville in Andalusia, with a population of 125,086 as of 2010.The city's name, which means "two sisters", dates from its founding in 1248 by King Ferdinand III of Castile and honours the sisters of Gonzalo Nazareno, one of the king's principal military...

    , Seville
    Seville
    Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

    , in southern Spain
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

    . "Manzanillas" means little apples in Spanish. Known for a rich taste and thick pulp, it is a prolific bearer, grown around the world.
  • Lucques
    Lucques
    The Lucques is a cultivar of olives grown primarily in Languedoc in France. It is primarily used as a green table olive. It can also produce high quality oil, but this is hard to extract...

    is found in the south of France (Aude
    Aude
    Aude is a department in south-central France named after the river Aude. The local council also calls the department "Cathar Country".Aude is also a frequent feminine French given name in Francophone countries, deriving initially from Aude or Oda, a wife of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, and mother...

     département). They are green, large, and elongated. The stone has an arcuated (bow)shape. Their flavour is mild and nutty.
  • Maalot (Hebrew for merits) is a disease-resistant, Eastern Mediterranean cultivar derived from the North African Chemlali cultivar in Israel. The olive is medium sized, round, has a fruity flavour and is used almost exclusively for oil production.
  • Mission originated on the California Missions and is now grown throughout the state. They are black and generally used for table consumption.
  • Nabali, a Palestinian
    Palestinian people
    The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

     cultivar also known locally as Baladi, which, along with Souri and Malissi, is considered to produce among the highest quality olive oil in the world.
  • Patrinia olive
    Patrinia olive
    Patrinia olive is a Greek variety of olive tree grown primarily in Aigialeia, Greece. The olive fruit is used exclusively for oil production and it has a high oil concentration of around 25%...

    , is a Greek variety of olive tree grown primarily in Aigialeia
    Aigialeia
    Aigialeia is a municipality and a former province of the Achaea peripheral unit, Greece. The seat of the municipality is the town Aigio. The main towns are Aigio, Akrata and Diakopto. The mountains dominate the central, the southern and the western part, farmlands dominate the northern part...

    , Greece
    Greece
    Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

    .
  • Picholine
    Picholine
    The Picholine is a French cultivar of olives. It is the most widely available cultivar in France. Though originally from Gard in southern France, it is today grown all over the world. The Picholine is best known as a cocktail olive, though it is also used to make olive oil.-Extent:The Picholine...

    , is grown in the south of France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    . It is green, medium size, and elongated. The flavour is mild and nutty.
  • Picual, from southern Spain (province of Jaén
    Jaén, Spain
    Jaén is a city in south-central Spain, the name is derived from the Arabic word Jayyan, . It is the capital of the province of Jaén. It is located in the autonomous community of Andalusia....

    ), is the most widely cultivated olive in Spain, comprising about 50% of Spain's olive production and around 20% of world olive production. It has a strong but sweet flavour, and is widely used in Spain as a table olive.
  • Souri, grown in Lebanon
    Lebanon
    Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

     near the town of Sur (Tyre) and widespread in the Levant
    Levant
    The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

    , has a high oil yield and exceptionally aromatic flavour.
  • BARI ZAITOON-1, grown in Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

     Recently approved.
  • BARI ZAITOON-2, grown in Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

     Recently approved.

Growth and propagation



Olive trees, Olea europaea, show a marked preference for calcareous
Lime (mineral)
Lime is a general term for calcium-containing inorganic materials, in which carbonates, oxides and hydroxides predominate. Strictly speaking, lime is calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide. It is also the name for a single mineral of the CaO composition, occurring very rarely...

 soil
Soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

s, flourishing best on limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 slopes and crags, and coastal climate conditions. They grow in any light soil, even on clay if well drained, but in rich soils they are predisposed to disease and produce poorer oil than in poorer soil. (This was noted by Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

.) Olives like hot weather, and temperatures below -10 C may injure even a mature tree. They tolerate drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 well, thanks to their sturdy and extensive root
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

 system. Olive trees can live for several centuries, and can remain productive for as long if they are pruned correctly and regularly.

Olives grow very slowly, and over many years the trunk can attain a considerable diameter. A. P. de Candolle
A. P. de Candolle
Augustin Pyramus de Candolle also spelled Augustin Pyrame de Candolle was a Swiss botanist. René Louiche Desfontaines launched Candolle's botanical career by recommending him at an herbarium...

 recorded one exceeding 10 metres (32.8 ft) in girth. The trees rarely exceed 15 metres (49.2 ft) in height, and are generally confined to much more limited dimensions by frequent pruning. The yellow or light greenish-brown wood is often finely veined with a darker tint; being very hard and close-grained, it is valued by woodworkers. There are only a handlful of olive varieties that can be used to cross-pollinate. Pendolino olive trees are partially self-fertile, but pollenizers are needed for a large fruit crop. Other compatible olive tree pollenizers include Leccino and Maurino. Pendolino olive trees are used extensively as pollenizers in large olive tree groves.

Olives are propagated by various methods. The preferred ways are cuttings and layers; the tree roots easily in favourable soil and throws up suckers from the stump when cut down. However, yields from trees grown from suckers or seeds are poor; they must be budded
Budding
Budding is a form of asexual reproduction in which a new organism grows on another one. The new organism remains attached as it grows, separating from the parent organism only when it is mature. Since the reproduction is asexual, the newly created organism is a clone and is genetically identical...

 or grafted
Grafting
Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues from one plant are inserted into those of another so that the two sets of vascular tissues may join together. This vascular joining is called inosculation...

 onto other specimens to do well (Lewington and Parker, 114). Branches of various thickness cut into lengths of about 1 metres (3.3 ft) planted deeply in manure
Manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

d ground soon vegetate. Shorter pieces are sometimes laid horizontally in shallow trenches and, when covered with a few centimetres of soil, rapidly throw up sucker-like shoots. In Greece, grafting the cultivated tree on the wild tree is a common practice. In Italy, embryonic buds, which form small swellings on the stems, are carefully excised and planted under the soil surface, where they soon form a vigorous shoot.

The olive is also sometimes grown from seed. To facilitate germination
Germination
Germination is the process in which a plant or fungus emerges from a seed or spore, respectively, and begins growth. The most common example of germination is the sprouting of a seedling from a seed of an angiosperm or gymnosperm. However the growth of a sporeling from a spore, for example the...

, the oily pericarp is first softened by slight rotting, or soaked in hot water or in an alkaline solution.

Where the olive is carefully cultivated, as in Languedoc
Languedoc
Languedoc is a former province of France, now continued in the modern-day régions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées in the south of France, and whose capital city was Toulouse, now in Midi-Pyrénées. It had an area of approximately 42,700 km² .-Geographical Extent:The traditional...

 and Provence
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

, the trees are regularly pruned. The pruning preserves the flower-bearing shoots of the preceding year, while keeping the tree low enough to allow the easy gathering of the fruit. The spaces between the trees are regularly fertilized. The crop from old trees is sometimes enormous, but they seldom bear well two years in succession, and in many cases a large harvest occurs every sixth or seventh season.

Fruit harvest and processing



Olives are harvested in the autumn
Autumn
Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter usually in September or March when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier....

 and winter
Winter
Winter is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.-Meteorology:...

. More specifically in the Northern hemisphere, green olives are picked at the end of September to about the middle of November. Blond olives are picked from the middle of October to the end of November and black olives are collected from the middle of November to the end of January or early February. In southern Europe, harvesting is done for several weeks in winter, but the time varies in each country, and with the season and the cultivar.

Most olives today are harvested by shaking the boughs or the whole tree. Using olives found lying on the ground can result in poor quality oil. Another method involves standing on a ladder and "milking" the olives into a sack tied around the harvester's waist. A third method uses a device called an oli-net that wraps around the tree trunk and opens to form an umbrella
Umbrella
An umbrella or parasol is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The term parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun; umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain...

-like catcher from which workers collect the fruit. Another method uses an electric tool, the oliviera, that has large tongs
Tongs
Tongs are used for gripping and lifting tools, of which there are many forms adapted to their specific use. Some are merely large pincers or nippers, but the greatest number fall into three classes:...

 that spin around quickly, removing fruit from the tree. This method is used for olives used for oil. Table olive varieties are more difficult to harvest, as workers must take care not to damage the fruit; baskets that hang around the worker's neck are used. In some places in Italy and Greece, olives are harvested by hand because the terrain is too mountainous for machines. As a result, the fruit is not bruised, which leads to a superior finished product. The method also involves sawing off branches, which is healthy for future production.

The amount of oil contained in the fruit differs greatly by cultivar; the pericarp is usually 60–70% oil. Typical yields are 1.5–2.2 kg (3.3–4.9 lb) of oil per tree per year.

Traditional fermentation and curing





Olives are a naturally bitter fruit that is typically subjected to fermentation
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

 or cured with lye
Lye
Lye is a corrosive alkaline substance, commonly sodium hydroxide or historically potassium hydroxide . Previously, lye was among the many different alkalis leached from hardwood ashes...

 or brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

 to make it more palatable.

Green olives and black olives are typically washed thoroughly in water to remove oleuropein
Oleuropein
Oleuropein is a chemical compound found in olive leaf from the olive tree together with other closely related compounds such as 10-hydroxyoleuropein, ligstroside, and 10-hydroxyligstroside. All these compounds are tyrosol esters of elenolic acid that are further hydroxylated and glycosylated...

, a bitter carbohydrate. Sometimes they are also soaked in a solution of food grade sodium hydroxide to accelerate the process.

Green olives are allowed to ferment before being packed in a brine solution. American black ("California") olives are not fermented, which is why they taste milder than green olives.

Freshly picked olive fruit is not palatable because it contains phenol
Phenol
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid. The molecule consists of a phenyl , bonded to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds...

ic compounds and oleuropein, a glycoside
Glycoside
In chemistry, a glycoside is a molecule in which a sugar is bound to a non-carbohydrate moiety, usually a small organic molecule. Glycosides play numerous important roles in living organisms. Many plants store chemicals in the form of inactive glycosides. These can be activated by enzyme...

 which makes the fruit too bitter, although not unhealthy. (One exception is the throubes olive, which can be eaten fresh.) There are many ways of processing olives for eating. Traditional methods use the natural microflora on the fruit and procedures which select for those flora that ferment
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

 the fruit. This fermentation leads to three important outcomes: the leaching out and breakdown of oleuropein and phenolic compounds; the creation of lactic acid
Lactic acid
Lactic acid, also known as milk acid, is a chemical compound that plays a role in various biochemical processes and was first isolated in 1780 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Lactic acid is a carboxylic acid with the chemical formula C3H6O3...

, which is a natural preservative; and a complex of flavoursome fermentation products. The result is a product which will store with or without refrigeration.

Fresh olives are often sold at markets. Olives can be used green, ripe green (a yellower shade of green, or green with hints of colour), through to full purple black ripeness. Olives should be selected for general good condition and for firmness if green. For fermentation, the olives are soaked in water to wash, then drained. One method uses a ratio of 7 liters (7 kg (15.4 lb)) of room temperature water, plus 800 g (28.2 oz) of sea salt and 1 cup (300 g (10.6 oz)) of white wine or cider vinegar
Vinegar
Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional...

. Each olive is slit deeply with a small knife; large fruit (e.g., 60 fruit per kg) should be slit in multiple places. The solution is added to a container of olives, and they are weighted down with an inert object, such as a plate, so they are fully immersed and lightly sealed in their container. The gases of fermentation should be able to escape. It is possible to use a plastic bag partially filled with water, and lay this over the top as a venting lid, which also provides a good seal. The exclusion of oxygen is helpful, but not as critical as when fermenting grapes to produce wine. After some weeks, the salinity drops from 10% to around 5 to 6%, once the water in the olives moves into solution and the salt moves into the olives. The olives are edible within 2 weeks to a month, but can be left to cure for up to three months. They can be tasted at any time because the bitter compounds are not poisonous, and oleuropein
Oleuropein
Oleuropein is a chemical compound found in olive leaf from the olive tree together with other closely related compounds such as 10-hydroxyoleuropein, ligstroside, and 10-hydroxyligstroside. All these compounds are tyrosol esters of elenolic acid that are further hydroxylated and glycosylated...

 is a useful antioxidant
Antioxidant
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

 in the human diet.

Curing can be done by several methods: lye-curing, salt-curing, brine-curing and fresh water-curing. Salt-curing (also known as dry-curing) involves packing the olives in plain salt for at least a month, which produces a salty and wrinkled olive. Brine-curing involves placing the olives in a salt water solution for a few days or more. Fresh-water curing involves soaking the olives in a succession of baths, of which the water is changed daily. Green olives are usually firmer than black olives.

Olives can also be flavoured by soaking them in various marinades, or removing the pit and stuffing them. Popular flavourings are herb
Herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

s, spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s, olive oil, feta
Feta
Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese,...

, capsicum
Capsicum
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

 (pimento), chili
Chili pepper
Chili pepper is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The term in British English and in Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries is just chilli without pepper.Chili peppers originated in the Americas...

, lemon zest, lemon
Lemon
The lemon is both a small evergreen tree native to Asia, and the tree's ellipsoidal yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world – primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind are also used, mainly in cooking and baking...

 juice, garlic
Garlic
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent...

 cloves, wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

, vinegar, juniper
Juniper
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the...

 berries, almonds, and anchovies. Sometimes, the olives are lightly cracked with a hammer or a stone to trigger fermentation. This method of curing adds a slightly bitter taste.

Pests, diseases, and weather


A fungus
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

, Cycloconium oleaginum, can infect the trees for several successive seasons, causing great damage to plantations. A species of bacterium, Pseudomonas savastanoi
Pseudomonas savastanoi
Pseudomonas savastanoi is a Gram-negative plant pathogenic bacterium that infects a variety of plants. It was once considered a pathovar of Pseudomonas syringae, but following DNA-relatedness studies, it was instated as a new species....

pv. oleae, induces tumour growth in the shoots. Certain lepidopterous caterpillar
Caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

s feed on the leaves and flowers. More serious damage is caused by olive-fly attacks to the fruit.

A pest which spreads through olive trees is the black scale bug, a small black scale insect
Scale insect
The scale insects are small insects of the order Hemiptera, generally classified as the superfamily Coccoidea. There are about 8,000 species of scale insects.-Ecology:...

 that resembles a small black spot. They attach themselves firmly to olive trees and reduce the quality of the fruit; their main predators are wasps. The curculio beetle
Plum curculio
The plum curculio is a true weevil native to the regions east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. It is notorious for destroying fruits if left uncontrolled.- Life stages :...

 eats the edges of leaves, leaving sawtooth damage.

Rabbit
Rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

s eat the bark of olive trees and can do considerable damage, especially to young trees. If the bark is removed around the entire circumference of a tree it is likely to die.

At the northern edge of their cultivation zone, for instance in Southern France and north-central Italy, olive trees suffer occasionally from frost
Frost
Frost is the solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air. It is formed when solid surfaces are cooled to below the dew point of the adjacent air as well as below the freezing point of water. Frost crystals' size differ depending on time and water vapour available. Frost is also usually...

. Gale
Gale
A gale is a very strong wind. There are conflicting definitions of how strong a wind must be to be considered a gale. The U.S. government's National Weather Service defines a gale as 34–47 knots of sustained surface winds. Forecasters typically issue gale warnings when winds of this strength are...

s and long-continued rains during the gathering season also cause damage.

Production


Olives are one of the most extensively cultivated fruit crops in the world. In 2009 there were 9.9 million hectares planted with olive trees, which is more than twice the amount of land devoted to apples, bananas or mangoes. Only coconut trees and oil palms command more space. Cultivation area tripled from 2600000 to 8500000 ha (6,424,734.2 to 21,003,938.9 acre) between 1960 and 2004 and in 2008 reached 10.8 mln Ha. The ten largest producing countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

, are all located in the Mediterranean region and produce 95% of the world's olives.
Main countries of production (Year 2009 per FAOSTAT)
Rank Country/Region Production
(in ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

s)
Cultivated area
(in hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s)
Yield
(q
Quintal
Quintal may refer to:* Quintal , a unit of mass* Quartal and quintal harmony in music* Quintal, Haute-Savoie, a commune of the Haute-Savoie département in France* Stéphane Quintal, NHL ice hockey player...

/Ha)
World 18,241,809 9,922,836 18.383
1  Spain 6,204,700 2,500,000 24.818
2  Italy 3,600,500 1,159,000 31.065
3  Greece 2,444,230 (2007) 765,000 31.4
4  Turkey 1,290,654 727,513 17.740
5  Syria 885,942 635,691 13.936
6  Morocco 770,000 550,000 14.000
7  Tunisia 750,000 2,300,000 3.260
8  Egypt 500,000 110,000 45.454
9  Algeria 475,182 288,442 16.474
10  Portugal 362,600 380,700 9.524
11  Lebanon 210,200 250,000 6.5
12  Jordan 189,000 126,000
13  Libya 180,000
14  Argentina 160,000 52,000 30.769

As an invasive species


Since its first domestication, Olea europaea has been spreading back to the wild from planted groves. Its original wild populations in southern Europe have been largely swamped by feral plants.

In some other parts of the world where it has been introduced, most notably South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

, the olive has become a major woody weed
Weed
A weed in a general sense is a plant that is considered by the user of the term to be a nuisance, and normally applied to unwanted plants in human-controlled settings, especially farm fields and gardens, but also lawns, parks, woods, and other areas. More specifically, the term is often used to...

 that displaces native vegetation. In South Australia, its seeds are spread by the introduced red fox
Red Fox
The red fox is the largest of the true foxes, as well as being the most geographically spread member of the Carnivora, being distributed across the entire northern hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, Central America, and the steppes of Asia...

 and by many bird species, including the European starling
European Starling
The Common Starling , also known as the European Starling or just Starling, is a passerine bird in the family Sturnidae.This species of starling is native to most of temperate Europe and western Asia...

 and the native emu
Emu
The Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. There are three subspecies of Emus in Australia...

, into woodlands, where they germinate and eventually form a dense canopy that prevents regeneration of native trees. As the climate of South Australia is very dry and bushfire prone, the oil rich feral olive tree substantially increases the fire hazard of native sclerophyll
Sclerophyll
Sclerophyll is the term for a type of vegetation that has hard leaves and short internodes . The word comes from the Greek sclero and phyllon ....

 woodlands.

See also


  • Battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros
    Battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros
    The Battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros or Koundouras took place in the spring of 1205, in Messinia, Peloponnese, between the Franks and the Greeks, resulting in a victory of the Frankish knights and the collapse of the local resistance....

  • Candida tropicalis
    Candida tropicalis
    Candida tropicalis is a species of yeast in the genus Candida. It is easily recognized as a common medical yeast pathogen, existing as part of the normal human flora.-External links:*...

  • Moria (tree)
    Moria (tree)
    In ancient Greece, a moria was an olive tree considered to be the property of the State.From Attic Orators, vol. I. p. 289:-References:...

  • Oil-tree
    Oil-tree
    Oil-tree - , Heb. 'etz shemen, rendered "olive tree" in 1 Kings 6:23, 31, 32, 33 and "pine branches" in Neh...

  • Phytochemical
    Phytochemical
    Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants . Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties . For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic...

  • Polyphenol antioxidant
    Polyphenol antioxidant
    A polyphenol antioxidant is a type of antioxidant containing a polyphenolic substructure. Numbering over 4,000 distinct species, many of these compounds have antioxidant activity in vitro but are unlikely to have antioxidant roles in vivo...

  • Zeitoun (disambiguation)
    Zeitoun (disambiguation)
    Zeitoun, Zeytoun, Zaytoun, Zeitun, Zitouna or Zeita may refer to:- Organisations :* Zaytoun, a non-profit organisation marketing Palestinian olive oil products- People :...


External links