DESCRIPTION 

 

The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning “european olive”, (syn. Olea sylvestris) is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, found in much of Africa, the Mediterranean Basin from Portugal to the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and southern Asia as far east as China, as well as the Canary Islands, Mauritius and R union. The species is cultivated in many places and considered naturalized in Spain, Algeria, France (including Corsica), Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Malta, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Crimea, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Argentina, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Java, Norfolk Island, California and Bermuda.The olive’s fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. The tree and its fruit give their name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilacs, jasmine, Forsythia and the true ash trees (Fraxinus).

 

HOW TO GROW 

 

  • Take a bowl, and lay a thin layer of compost.Then place the olive pits on top of the compost. Once the pits/seeds have been placed, use a spray bottle to thoroughly water the contents of the bowl.
  • This step is the germination stage.During this time leave the bowl with the mixture damp, but not sopping wet, in a warm place with a lot of sunlight. This stage may take a few weeks, make sure that the seeds are consistently moist, warm and receiving optimal sunshine.
  • Prepare a pot with sandy, quick draining soil.Once germination is complete, and the seeds are starting to sprout, transplant the seeds promptly into the pot.
  • Initially it is best to keep the plant indoors, even if the climate is warm outdoors.Water the plant and keep it in a warm and sunny place indoors.
  • As the tree begins to grow, prune the lower leaves of the tree as this will help upward growth.
  • Throughout the plants life, it needs to be kept in a warm location, with a good amount of sunlight.Only water the olive tree if the soil in the pot feels dry, and do not over water.

 

PLANT CARE 

 

  • You will have to water sufficiently to get your tree established and thereafter as necessary during dry periods. No one can give you a formula for that; you will have to observe and evaluate. Low volume spray irrigation can be used effectively, but drip irrigation is of little or no use in sandy soils.
  • Olive trees do not require pruning in order to produce fruit, at least not until they are around 50 years old. It is okay to prune olive trees to achieve a desired shape but remember that they fruit on branches that grew during the previous spring and summer; cutting off a lot of such growth will preclude or greatly reduce fruiting potential for the next season.
  • It may be helpful to prune the top, upwardly growing, branches back by a few inches to encourage lateral growth, thus facilitating the picking of fruit. It is also a good idea to cut out small interior branches that will ultimately clutter the tree’s appearance and provide protection for any pests or diseases that may be lurking around your site.
  • If fruiting is not important, you can shape your olive tree to any way you please.

 

PESTS/DISEASES

 

  • The only pests we have known to attack olive trees outside of olive producing regions is an armored scale insect. It is not common but should be watched for, especially if your site has other species prone to harbor scale insects. Inspect the trees by looking under the leaves and in the branch axils for a dark bump the size of a “BB.” These insects do not move in the adult stage; they attach themselves like barnacles. The presence of sooty mold on leaves and bark, or ants crawling on your tree, indicates the presence of scale insects.
  • If scale is found, it may be treated with a variety of products, depending upon personal preference. It may also be removed by hand if you have only one or a few trees. If you have other plantings that attract pests such as thrips or stink bugs, these may also have a go at your olive tree. Consult your local garden center or pest control specialist about the control of pests. Regulations vary from place to place.

 

HEALTH 

 

  • Olives and olive oil contain an abundance of phenolic antioxidants as well as the anti-cancer compounds squalene and terpenoid. They also contain high levels of the monounsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid which reduce chronic, excessive inflammation. These two compounds also work to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals on the body cells.
  • Olive oil contains biophenols, which suppress the synthesis of LDL (or bad cholesterol) which has been shown to play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. High levels of LDL in the blood amplify oxidative stress which hardens the arterial walls (called atherosclerosis). The biophenols in olives reduce blood pressure, therefore reducing the development of arterial plaque as well.
  • Olives contain a compound called oleocanthal that has strong anti-inflammatory properties, mimicking the action of ibuprofen. Olive oil naturally reduces the pain of chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and can be added to a daily diet to aid in pain reduction.
  • The antimicrobial properties in olives and olive oil help to combat the bacteria responsible for causing stomach ulcers. Studies have shown their high levels of polyphenols protect against eight strains of ulcer-causing bacteria, three of which are resistant to some antibiotics.
  • Olives contain a substantial amount of iron, a key factor in the formation of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body via the bloodstream. Iron also helps to build the enzymes responsible for regulating immune function and cognitive development.