Country of origin: Israel
Plant: Olive Tree
The olive tree, Olea europaea, is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 m (26–49 ft) in height. The silvery green leaves are oblong, measuring 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long and 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted. The small white, feathery flowers, with ten-cleft calyx and corolla, two stamens and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the previous year’s wood, in racemes springing from the axils of the leaves.
The fruit is a small drupe 1–2.5 cm (0.39–0.98 in) long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage.
Olive trees show a marked preference for calcareous soils, flourishing best on limestone 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. Olives like hot weather and sunny positions without any shade while temperatures below −10 °C (14 °F) may injure even a mature tree. They tolerate drought well, thanks to their sturdy and extensive root system. Olive trees can live for several centuries and can remain productive for as long if they are pruned correctly and regularly.