Name: Olive Tree
Scientific name: Olea
Flowering period: April - May
The olive tree is an evergreen tree or shrub, with small, lanceolate leaves, dark green on the upper surface and silvery on the lower. The flowers are quite small and white, while its fruit, the olive, ripens and is harvested in late autumn and early winter. Olive trees thrive in temperate climates without extremities in temperature or humidity. This why it is widespread in the Mediterranean zone, such as in Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey andAlgeria. Coastal areas are considered particularly suitable for its cultivation. The trees are planted in straight rows or in rhomboid arrangements. The area where olive trees are grown is called an "olive grove". The normal lifespan of an olive tree is 300 to 600 years, but there are also centuries- old olive trees around the world, with their age exceeding 1000 years.
Usage & History:
The olive's fruit is essential for the Mediterranean diet. It is consumed as it is, but mainly in the form of its product the olive oil. It provides fiber, minerals and natural antioxidants. From 4000 BC the use of olive oil was known for its therapeutic, as well as cosmetic properties. The ancient Egyptians used olive leaf extract to preserve the bodies of the dead (mummies).
In ancient Greek tradition, the olive was considered sacred and was under the protection of the goddess Athena. The goddess had gifted the Athenians the first olive tree by striking her spear into the Acropolis' rock, declaring herself protector- goddess of Athens, thus defeating Poseidon. Aristaeus, son of Cyrene and Apollo, who was taught the secrets of nature by the Nymphs, was the one that spreads among the humans the knowledge of processing the olive. At the Olympiads, the winners were given a kotinos as a prize, an olive branch, while at the great celebration of Panathenaia, the sacred olive of the Erechtheion, held an essential role. The olive branch is widely used as a symbol of peace, originating in the Greco- roman, and Christian tradition.