Hartmann, Hudson T. Pomology Extension, University of California, Davis, California.
Last reviewed:January 2021
- Growth of trees
- Harvest and oil production
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Any plant of the genus Olea in the order Lamiales (alternatively Scrophulariales), especially O. europaea, which is cultivated for its drupaceous fruit. Olea europaea is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree (Fig. 1). Olive fruits, both ripe (black olives) and unripe (green olives) [Fig. 2], can be eaten after processing as table olives, and they are of high oil content. The olive oil that is extracted from the fruits can be used on salads, for cooking, for body lotions, or for medicinal purposes. Historically, the olive tree is an ancient cultivated plant, having been domesticated by early civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean regions. Olive culture later spread to all of the Mediterranean countries and subsequently, during the age of exploration, to South America, California, South Africa, and Australia. The major olive-producing countries are Spain, Italy, and Greece, which provide about 60% of the world's olives. Olives are grown commercially in the United States only in California, and they are used primarily as table olives. See also: Evergreen plants; Fruit; Fruit, tree; Lamiales; Scrophulariales
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