The olive tree is scientifically known as Olea europaea. The tree is part of the Oleaceae family. It is a small-sized tree that originates in the eastern Mediterranean region, particularly in coastal areas. In Greece, the olive tree has a long history of being considered sacred, and even now is still used for various religious ceremonies.
The olive tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean basin's coastal areas. This region encompasses western Asia, southeastern Europe, parts of the Caspian Sea and northern Africa.
The olive tree has a lot of historical relevance and has earned itself many literary mentions, such as in "Odyssey" and "Iliad" by Homer. It has also been mentioned by Horace, the Roman poet, as well as the Scottish judge Lord Monboddo (also known as James Burnett). There are also various mentions of the olive tree in the Koran.
The exact origin of the olive tree is not entirely known, other than it comes from the eastern Mediterranean. In Italy's Mongardino, fossils of olive leaves have been discovered in Pliocene deposits. Fossilized remains have also been uncovered in Northern Africa's Relilai snail hatchery.
Wild Olive Trees
Wild olive trees came from Asia Minor (western Asia) approximately 6,000 years ago. In that region, the tree grows abundantly and appears in dense forested areas. The wild tree spread from Syria all the way to Greece.
In modern times, the olive tree has traveled far outside of the Mediterranean region and is well-known worldwide. The tree is commonly cultivated in places around the earth as far away as China, Japan, Australia and Southern Africa.