Interesting facts about olives


The olive is a fruit, not a vegetable. Can be green, purple, dark brown, black, and even pink color.

Olive tree originates from the coast of Mediterranean sea and western Asia.

Olive tree can reach 8 – 15 meters (26 – 49 feet) in height. Crown is well branched and rounded in shape.

Olive tree has oval-shaped, elongated leaves. They are leathery, grayish green on the upper side and whitish on the lower side.

olive leaves

The olive flower is white and only flowers after four years. First harvest can be expected after 15 years.

olive flowers

Olive tree is evergreen and can live up to 2000 years. Today there are over 800 million olive trees planted worldwide.

The average life of an olive tree is between 300 and 600 years.

The one of oldest olive tree in the world is on the island of Crete. The tree is about 4,000 years old and is still producing fruit.

oldest olive tree in the world

Olive tree produces small, egg-shaped fruit that usually reaches 1.5 – 2 centimeters (0.6 to 0.8 inches) in length.

Color of the fruit depends on the maturity of the fruit. Unripe fruit is green. Ripe fruit is dark purple to black in color.

Olives are not edible, green or ripe, and must be treated with lye and/or cured in brine or dry salt before being edible.

They must be processed to remove the bitter glucoside oleuropein, before they are edible, so they are usually first treated with lye and then pickled.

The largest type of olive is called a ‘donkey olive’. The smallest is known as a ‘bullet’.

Olives contain about 20% oil. People around the world consume 2.25 million liters of olive oil each year. This oil is much healthier and has more delicate flavor compared to the regular vegetable oils.
olive oil

Olives are rich source of oils, minerals and vitamins A, E, K and B.

Olive oil is rich in polyphenols – natural anti-oxidants, healthy monosaturated fats and oleic acid, such as Omega-6 and Omega-3. It helps to prevent coronary heart disease, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce ageing effect, strengthen the immune system, protect from the damaging effects of free-radicals and more.

Olive branch is a symbol of peace. People were using olive branch during the history to declare truce by giving it to their enemies. Olive branches were also used for crowning of the champions on the Olympic Games in the past. This tradition was revived during the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.

olive branch

According to the biblical story (Genesis 8:11), a dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying an olive branch in its beak, telling Noah that, somewhere, there was land.

An olive branch appears on the national flags of seven nations, four US states and the flag of the United Nations.

Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil. Italy is the second.

Hippocrates – Greek physician and “father of medicine” – called olive oil “the great therapeutic”.

First eye shadow was created in Ancient Greece by mixing ground charcoal with olive oil.

In Ancient Rome women applied olive oil to their skin and hair after bathing as protection from the sun and to maintain a pleasant fragrance.