A History of Olive Trees

The history of Olive trees goes back at least 6,000 to 7,000 years, when the distant ancestors of the trees we grow today are thought to have originated in Persia and Mesopotamia.

Olive trees in Provence

Olive trees in Provence – an inspiration for some of Van Gogh’s paintings.

Humans have cultivated Olives for their fruit for at least 5,000 years. Olives were grown in Crete as far back as 3,000 years B.C. The Olive tree was vital to early Mediterranean empires and is still very important today.

The Olive is a relatively compact evergreen tree and rarely grows more than 40 feet tall. The tree grows throughout the Mediterranean region, much of Africa, in North and South America and as Far East as China.

The Olive belongs to the same family as the Lilac, Jasmine and Ash Tree.

Many Olive trees in the groves around the Mediterranean are thought to be centuries old, with some trees up to 2000 years old.

Olive oil has long been considered sacred and the Olive branch is often used to signify abundance, glory and peace.

The Olive is often mentioned in the Bible and it was an olive leaf that a dove carried back to Noah on the Ark. The olive tree and olive oil are also mentioned in the Quran.

More information

Where to grow your Olive Tree
How hardy is an Olive Tree?
Feeding Your Olive Tree
Pruning your Olive Tree
Pests and Diseases