More Information About Olea
Olea is a genus of 34 species of small evergreen trees or shrubs whose most famous and most commonly grown member is the Olive Tree (Olea europea). Cultivated for 6000 years in Mediterranean countries, Olea europea is a plant full of symbolism and deep meaning (peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and purity). As a symbol of peace, people would make a crown of olive branches and present it to politicians, to victorious generals and to the winners of sporting contests. Olea is also a symbol of abundance and ancient Europeans offered olive branches to the dieties to ensure a bountiful harvest. Olive oil too has symbolic and historic uses and being annointed with olive oil is still practiced today. Many religions, including Christiansity, Islam, and Judaism, consider Olea to be a sacred tree, and the religious texts of these religions weave Olea into their parables and sermons.
When we think about Olive trees, we usually picture them in some hot, dry Mediterranean country (Italy, Greece, etc.), but they can also be found in North Africa, the Canary Islands and east all the way to China. Plus, Olive trees have been spread by man all over the world into hot dry places like Australia, Chile and California. Olea europea prefers to grow in hot climates, in full sun, and in well drained soil. In its native regions, Olea is often found on well-drained rocky, mountain sides growing in limestone rich soil. It comes as no surprise then that Olea is very drought tolerant once established and does not tolerate wet winter soil. With age, Olea tree trunks become gnarled and very attractive. Try pairing Olea with some of its botanical relatives (family oleaceae) like Jasminum, Syringa, Osmanthus, Ligustrum, Chionanthus, and Forsythia. Or follow the writings of Pliny the Elder and combine Olea with Ficus (Fig) to mimic the plantings in the middle of the Roman Forum. When you are ready to buy Olea for your garden, check out our online list of Olea for sale.