This World Tree Day We Celebrate the Beautiful & Versatile Olive Tree!
With its deep connection to human history and its striking appearance (not to mention the versatility and nutritional value of its fruit) we think the olive tree is worth celebrating this World Tree Day!
The Beautiful Olive Tree
The olive tree has a truly unmistakable appearance. With an average lifespan of 500 years (the oldest being 1,500 years old!) and standing from 5-10 metres tall, the olive tree’s knotted and craggy trunk seems to hide an ancient magic behind its twisted bark.
Sporadic and seemingly untamable branches burst with beautiful evergreen lancehead leaves that glisten with a light silvery underside and the fruit of the olive tree transitions from green, to purple, to a midnight black when ripe.
Few trees can conjure up images of heroic deeds, epic adventures and philosophical thought like the olive tree!
Olives: The Wealth of Empires
The olive tree and its humble fruit is one of the most important agricultural crops in human history. Grown throughout the Mediterranean, olives have been at the epicentre of ancient civilisation since as far back as 3000 BC.
One key civilisation that profited from the olive tree was the mighty Minoans (2000-1500 BCE). On the island of Crete, the Minoans built their impressive economic power through trading three key agricultural products: olives, figs (another beautiful tree to celebrate!) and wine to every major port in the Mediterranean. Olives and olive oil were transported in terracotta amphora and were an important source of nutrition to the people of antiquity.
After the Minoans faded into history, the seafaring empire of the Phoenicians (1100 - 200 BC) gave the olive tree its time to shine and spread them throughout the Mediterranean. In fact, it was the Phoenicians who first planted the first olive tree into Spanish soil over 3,000 years ago — and we’ve not looked back since!
After the Phoenicians were brought to its knees by the Roman Empire, their olive tree legacy lived on and Spanish olives and olive oil were a mainstay of Roman diets and was where the vast Roman Empire sourced its olive goods.
Today, Spain is by far the largest producer of olives and olive oil in the world accounting for 9.1m metric tonnes of olives and 1.1m metric tonnes of olive oil!
The Versatility of Olives
Since we began harvesting olives around 5,000 years ago, we discovered the true versatility of the olive. Of course, olives can be eaten as table olives in a variety of ways, and we all know the importance of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet, but did you know that olive oil also has cosmetic benefits?
Since the ancient Egyptians, olive oil has been used for its cosmetic properties and (alongside beeswax) as a cleanser, moisturiser, and as an antibacterial agent. Cleopatra herself is said to have used olive oil as a skincare treatment. In modern cosmetics we understand that olive oil can restore moisture levels in the skin due to the presence of fatty acids within the olive oil and also makes for a body massage oil.
In modern nutrition, we know that olive oil contains high levels of oleic acid which is an omega-9 fatty acid commonly used to prevent heart disease and help reduce cholesterol.
From Our Olive Grove to Your Table
We absolutely love the olive tree (can you tell?) and we proudly look after each tree in our olive groves with the utmost care and respect.
We believe if we’re good to our trees, they will be good to us and allow us to craft the La Española Olive Oil that you know and love!