The life of an olive tree can easily span for hundreds years, if not thousands. According to various sources, the oldest olive tree living in the world is 5,000 years old in Crete, Greece; Sardinia, Italy claims a tree to be 3,000 – 4,000 years old; and throughout Greece, Turkey, Italy and Croatia many trees have been documented to be over 1,000 years old. Today, in Torre di Palme, an olive tree well over 100 years old was delivered for display as part of our celebration for Festa dei Fiori. In olive tree years, this one is just a teenager, but we are still in awe. Olive trees maximum production for fruit arrives around 50 years old, will continue to bear fruit well after and live for an average of 300 – 500 years.
Note in the photo the broad, gnarled tree trunk, but shallow roots. Last month we observed our neighbor relocating olive trees with a backhoe. We learned they can be transplanted easily and grown in containers, in particular the dwarf variety. The olive tree has been referred to as “the tree that feeds the children” because of it’s nutritional value. Imagine the generations of people who have been nourished by its fruit. The olive tree is graceful, providing shade on hot summer days and create an eye-catching vista when clustered in a grove or solo in a field. Surrounding our home the small slender leaves blow in the wind and we watch the fruit grow for our future enjoyment of Casal Cristiana Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Clearly to have the ability to live hundred of years, the olive tree is hardy and strong. But strength cannot be sustained if neglected or exposed to harsh weather. As with most living things, proper care, watering and feeding, will ensure a long life and produce quality fruit. With shallow roots, olive trees thrive in sandy soils within the Mediterranean zone and require lots of sun. But they do need water for a healthy crop and in Le Marche, Italy, we have lots of sun but also the weekly thunderstorms water the crops to keep them growing, healthy and strong.