The olive tree has about twenty species widely distributed in Europe and Asia. The cultivated olive tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean. It is now widely cultivated in other parts of the world in similar climates and can live in all types of soil.
The olive tree is cultivated for its fruit, which is often consumed, prepared or seasoned in different ways. In addition, from it's fruit is removed olive oil; characterized by its multiple properties beneficial for our health. Olive oil is obtained from ripe olives, which contain it in a proportion of 20%. Olive oil is used in cooking, preserves and as a table oil.
In Spain, there are several varieties of olives which produce olive oil at a high quality.
The season for olive harvest begins in late November, when the fruit is very mature and contains more oil. In this manner, we obtain golden and sweet olive oils.
There are different varieties of olive tree:
- Acebucheno. Needs to be well looked after. It will provide small olives in small numbers through carelessness or poor soil quality.
- Arbequín. It is widely cultivated in Cataluña and it produces small but high quality fruit, such as manzanilla olives, much appreciated for the oil it produces. The tree is medium in size, lush and good looking when it's carrying the fruit.
- Manzanillo. Which produces very small olives called manzanilla.
- Silvestre (wild). Has fewer branches than the cultivated olive trees and smaller leaves too. Its fruit is the acebuchina.
- Africano. Evergreen tree, up to 14 m high, with rough dark bark. The flowers are small, fragrant, white or greenish, arranged in short axillary racemes. It is a tree native to South Africa. The wood is dark, hard, heavy and durable and is used for posts, furniture and cars. Ink is made with the juice of it's leaves. The leaves can be used as a substitute for tea or coffee.
In Spain, the varieties are geographically located and distributed as shown below:
Below is a sample of olives of every variety:
Royal Lechin sevilla