Olive

/ol"iv/, n.
a female given name.

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Subtropical, broad-leaved tree (Olea europaea) or its edible fruit.

The olive was being grown on the island of Crete с 3500 BC, and Semitic peoples apparently were cultivating it as early as 3000 BC. Its cultivation was important to the ancient Greeks and Romans and spread to all the countries bordering the Mediterranean. Today olives are grown primarily for olive oil, valued both for its distinctive taste and fragrance and for its dietary benefits. Fresh olives must be treated to neutralize their extreme bitterness before they can be eaten. The olive family (Oleaceae) comprises about 900 species in 24 genera of woody plants. Native to forested regions, members of the family grow worldwide except in the Arctic; they are evergreen in tropical and warm temperate climes and deciduous in colder zones. The family includes ash trees, which yield hardwood timber, and horticultural favourites such as the lilac, jasmine, privet, and forsythia. Many members of the family are cultivated for their beautiful and fragrant flowers.

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plant
      (Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), subtropical, broad-leaved, evergreen tree and its edible fruit. The tree, ranging in height from 3 to 12 metres (10 to 40 feet) or more, has numerous branches; its leaves, leathery and lance-shaped, are dark green above and silvery on the underside and are paired opposite each other on the twig. The wood is resistant to decay; if the top dies back, a new trunk will often arise from the roots. The tree's beauty has been extolled for thousands of years. The edible olive was grown on the island of Crete about 3500 BC; the Semitic peoples apparently cultivated it as early as 3000 BC. Olive oil was prized for anointing the body in Greece during the time of Homer; and it was an important crop of the Romans c. 600 BC. Later, olive growing spread to all the countries bordering the Mediterranean.

      Olive trees bloom in late spring; small, whitish flowers are borne in loose clusters in the axils of the leaves. Flowers are of two types: perfect, containing both male and female parts, which are capable of developing into the olive fruits; and male, which contain only the pollen-producing parts. The olive is wind-pollinated. Fruit setting in the olive is often erratic; in some areas, especially where irrigation and fertilization are not practiced, bearing in alternate years is the rule. The trees may set a heavy crop one year and not even bloom the next.

      The olive fruit is classed botanically as a drupe, similar to the peach or plum. Within the stone are one or two seeds. Olives tend to have maximum oil content (about 20–30 percent of fresh weight) and greatest weight six to eight months after the blossoms appear. At that stage they are black and will continue to cling to the tree for several weeks. Fruits for oil extraction are allowed to mature, but, for processing as food, immature fruits are picked or shaken off the tree. Hundreds of named varieties of both types of olives, table and oil, are grown in warm climates. In California, olives such as the Mission variety are grown almost exclusively for table use. In Europe, olives such as the Picual, Nevadillo, and Morcal are grown mostly for oil.

      Commercial olive production generally occurs in two belts around the world, between 30° and 45° N latitude and between 30° and 45° S, where the climatic requirements for growth and fruitfulness can be found. Olive varieties do not come true from seed. Seedlings generally produce inferior fruit and must be budded or grafted to one of the named varieties. Olives can be propagated by cuttings, either by hardwood cuttings set in the nursery row in the spring or by small, leafy cuttings rooted under mist sprays in a propagating frame. The trees start bearing in 4 to 8 years, but full production is not reached for 15 or 20 years.

      Olives are grown mainly for the production of olive oil. Fresh, unprocessed olives are inedible because of their extreme bitterness resulting from a glucoside that can be neutralized by treatments with a dilute alkali such as lye. Salt applications also dispel some of the bitterness. The processed fruit may be eaten either ripe or green. The olive fruit and its oil are key elements in the cuisine of the Mediterranean and popular outside the region.

      Olive oil is classified into five grades: (1) virgin, from first pressings that meet defined standards; (2) pure, or edible, a mixture of refined and virgin; (3) refined, or commercial, consisting of lampante from which acid, colour, and odour have been removed; (4) lampante, high-acid oil, named for its use as a lamp fuel, obtained from a second pressing of residual pulp with hot water (some inferior virgin oils are classed as lampante); (5) sulfide, extracted with solvents and refined repeatedly.

      In the late 20th century, Spain and Italy were the world leaders in commercial olive production, with more than a quarter each of the world's total followed by Greece, with more than a 10th. Other important olive-producing countries are Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, and Portugal. Europe, with nearly 500 million olive trees, has more than three-quarters of the world's cultivated olives, followed by Asia (about 13 percent).

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • olive — [ ɔliv ] n. f. • 1260; « olivier » 1080; provenç. oliva, lat. oliva 1 ♦ Fruit de l olivier, drupe globuleuse et oblongue, de couleur verdâtre puis noirâtre à maturité, à peau lisse, dont on extrait de l huile. Huile d olive. Olives vertes… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • OLIVE — (Heb. זַיִת), the Olea europaea tree and its fruit. The wild olive grows in the groves of Upper Galilee and Carmel. It is a prickly shrub producing small fruits. There are many varieties of cultivated olives, some being suitable for oil, and some …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Olive — Ol ive, n. [F., fr. L. oliva, akin to Gr. ?. See {Oil}.] 1. (Bot.) (a) A tree ({Olea Europ[ae]a}) with small oblong or elliptical leaves, axillary clusters of flowers, and oval, one seeded drupes. The tree has been cultivated for its fruit for… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Olive — bezeichnet: die Frucht des Echten Ölbaums, siehe Olivenbaum davon abgeleitet die Farbe Oliv ein Kerngebiet im Myelencephalon, siehe Nucleus olivaris das Ohrstück des Stethoskops ein Schlauchanschlussstück im Laborbereich, siehe Schlauchkupplung… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • olive — OLIVE. s. f. Espece de fruit à noyau dont on tire de l huile. Olive meure. olive verte. olive de Luques. olive de Provence. olive d Espagne. olive de Veronne. olives charnuës. les olives en meurissant deviennent noires, commencent à noircir.… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Olive — grove and Olive tree redirect here. For other uses, see Olive grove (disambiguation) and Olive tree (disambiguation). This article is about the tree and the fruit. For other uses, see Olive (disambiguation). For olive oil, see Olive oil. Olive… …   Wikipedia

  • Olive 8 — Alternative names Hyatt at Olive 8 General information Type Hotel, residential, retail …   Wikipedia

  • olive — (n.) c.1200, olive tree, from O.Fr. olive, from L. oliva olive, olive tree, from Gk. elaia olive tree, olive, probably from the same Aegean language (perhaps Cretan) as Armenian ewi oil. Applied to the fruit or berry of the tree in English from… …   Etymology dictionary

  • olive — [äl′iv] n. [OFr < L oliva < Gr elaia] 1. a) an evergreen tree (Olea europaea) of the olive family, native to S Europe and the Near East, with leathery leaves, yellow flowers, and an edible fruit b) the small, oval fruit of this tree, eaten… …   English World dictionary

  • Olive — Sf erw. exot. (16. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus l. olīva (auch: Ölbaum, Olivenbaum , verwandt mit l. oleum n. Öl ), dieses aus gr. elāā, elaíā. Adjektiv: oliv (Farbbezeichnung).    Ebenso nndl. olijf, ne. olive, nfrz. olive, nschw. oliv, nisl.… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Olive — Olive: Der seit dem Anfang des 16. Jh.s bezeugte Name für die Früchte des Ölbaumes (beachte schon mhd. olīve »Ölbaum«), aus denen das Olivenöl gewonnen wird, ist aus lat. oliva »Ölbaum; Olive« entlehnt, das seinerseits aus gleichbed. griech.… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

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