Olive Tree

Olive Tree

Common name Olive
Botanical name Olea europaeae
Family Oleaceae
Natural range Mediterranean
Mature height Rarely above 10m
Form Small-to-medium tree, wide crown
Likes Well-drained, light soil
Dislikes Rich soil!
Where to plant Warm, dry areas
Known for Gnarly twisted trunks

Where Do Olives Come From?

Who wouldn’t be excited about nurturing a tree that will outlast the average human lifespan? It’s quite a thought, right? Think about a tree that will not only defy centuries but possibly millennia, all the while generously producing delicious fruit. This isn’t a work of fiction. It’s the marvel that is the Olive tree (Olea europaea), a tough-as-nails green wonder that we have the privilege to cultivate.

Why Choose an Olive Tree?

Look no further than the Olive tree if you’re searching for a robust and long-lasting addition to your garden that offers a lot more than just shade. An olive tree is the perfect embodiment of a giving nature. It not only decorates your garden with its silver-green leaves and twisted trunks, but it also provides you with the most delightful fruits – olives, perfect for a homemade bruschetta or a refreshing martini.

Are They Hardy?

Olive trees have learned the art of survival over the years. They originated on the stony hillsides of warm climates, where soil quality was hardly ideal. This has made them unusually resilient and able to withstand droughts. They’re not delicate; they’re survivors, sometimes living up to a whopping 1000 years or more.

What Makes Olive Trees Unique?

There’s something profoundly awe-inspiring about the majestic silhouette of an old Olive tree. The young, slender saplings gradually transform into gnarled stalwarts with their thick, calloused trunks that are unmistakable. In fact, there’s an Olive tree known as the Olive tree of Vouves in Crete, Greece, that is believed to be the oldest in the world. Tree ring analysis puts its age at least 2000 years, but some scientists believe it could be double that. And it still yields olives annually!

How Do Olive Trees Bear Fruit?

Every spring, Olive trees surprise us with their tiny white blossoms, which slowly give way to the fruit we all love. You can expect your Olive tree to start bearing fruit when it’s just five years old, and the yield will only get steadier as it ages. Their root system is extraordinarily robust, allowing the tree to regenerate even if the above-ground structure gets damaged.

How Diverse Are Olives

It’s quite impressive how diverse Olive trees can be. As a potential Olive tree cultivator, you have the luxury of choosing from hundreds of cultivars that offer different growth characteristics, colour, size, and shape, as well as the quality of olive oil they produce. Some cultivars are bred primarily for oil, others for eating, and some for both. So, take your time choosing your tree. After all, it will be a companion for a lifetime, or perhaps even a few!

Fun Facts
  1. Olive trees can withstand droughts and thrive in poor soils due to their historical growth in sparse stony hillsides.
  2. Some Olive trees have been known to live over 1000 years, even up to 2000 or 4000 years.
  3. The Olive tree of Vouves in Crete, Greece, believed to be the world’s oldest, still bears olives every year.
  4. An Olive tree’s root system is robust enough to regenerate the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed.
  5. There are hundreds of Olive tree cultivars available to the home gardener.
Links for further reading:
  1. How to grow Olive trees in your garden
  2. The secrets of Olive tree longevity
  3. Interesting facts about the Olive tree of Vouves
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