Olea Europaea is a fruit plant used in food since ancient times and originating in the Near East. Today, it is mainly found in countries bordering the Mediterranean as this is where it finds the best climatic conditions for producing excellent fruit. These, the olives, are used both for the production of oil and for direct consumption, the latter however only after debittering, i.e. the reduction of the bitter taste through the use of brines and other methods.

The olive tree must be pruned so that it does not exceed 3.5 metres in height to facilitate manual harvesting of the olives as this is a very delicate stage in the production of quality oil.

The name olive comes from the Latin olīvum. The form olive treeas well as olive, is prevalent in poetic literary contexts and in Tuscany, while the form olivo prevails in scientific literature and is used in Trentino, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio and Sardinia. In the south, however, it is said alivo.

Olive - fruit


The olive is the edible fruit of the olive tree, oval in shape and divided into 3 parts:

  1. EPICARP: outermost, thinnest and most transparent part;
  2. MESOCARPUS: pulpy middle part;
  3. ENDOCARPUS: core.

The core is in turn divided into three parts:

  1. TEGUMENT: outer part;
  2. ALBUME: central part;
  3. COTILEDON: innermost part, from which the whole plant develops.

By analysing the diameter and length of the kernel, it is possible to distinguish the domestic species with a diameter of more than 10 mm from the smaller wild species. The fruit contains between 20 - 25 % fat and over 50 % water. Approximately 2 % is occupied by non-negligible unsaponifiable substances as they contain polyphenols, sterols, alkalis and hydrocarbons.

The olive is a drupe, i.e. an indehiscent fleshy fruit with a thin, membranous exocarp (skin), a fleshy, juicy mesocarp (flesh), and a woody endocarp containing a single bony seed (stone). These fruits are edible for animals, which eat them, without being able to digest the endocarp, which is dispersed, together with its seed, by the animal itself, defecating.


Olive tree - Plant


The olive tree, an evergreen plant with a continuous activity that fades slightly in the winter period, starts bearing fruit from its third year of age, but it is only from its tenth year that it starts its most productive phase and it is only after the age of 50 that it reaches its full maturity. The olive tree is a very long-lived plant as, with favourable climatic conditions, it can live to be over 1000 years old. Its roots, of the adventitious type, are superficial and expanded, never going deeper than 60-100 cm. Its stem is cylindrical and twisted, with a grey bark and very hard, heavy wood. The stump forms ovoli, i.e. globular structures, which emit many basal suckers every year. The foliage is conical, with fruiting branches that, depending on the variety, become pendulous or patent, - arranged horizontally with respect to the stem -. The elliptical lanceolate leaves are opposite, leathery, simple and entire, with the underside silvery white due to the presence of scaly hairs. the buds are mainly axillary, i.e. they arise in the portion formed by the angle between a branch or petiole and the stem.

The flower is hermaphrodite, small, with a calyx of 4 sepals and a corolla of white petals. The flowers are grouped in numbers of 10-15 clustered inflorescences called mignules, which emerge between March and April, issued in the axils of the leaves of the previous year's twigs. Flowering occurs, depending on cultivar and zone, from May to the first half of June. The fruit is a gluttonous, ellipsoidal or ovoid, sometimes asymmetrical, truffle with a weight ranging from 1 to 6 grams depending on variety, climate and cultivation technique.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It has free acidity expressed as oleic acid at a maximum of o.8 g/100 g.

Virgin Olive

It has a maximum free acidity expressed as oleic acid of 2 g/100 g.

Olive Oil

It has free acidity expressed as oleic acid at a maximum of 1 g/100 g.

Questions & Answers

What does Cultivar mean?

In agronomy, the term refers to a cultivated plant variety obtained through genetic improvement that summarises a set of precise physiological, morphological, commodity and agronomic traits of particular interest and transmissible through propagation, which may be by seed or plant parts. From a practical point of view, this term can be likened to the concept of 'breed' of an animal species achieved through domestication and selection.

How is a Cultivar born?

First a particular genotype is identified, then it is artificially isolated by mass or individual selection whose characters are fixed and repeatable by gamic propagation for at least 3-4 generations.

Cultivar or Variety?

In agronomy, the mistake is often made of using the term cultivar as a synonym for 'variety'. This is improper as 'variety' should only be reserved for the botanical meaning of the term and therefore refers to a particular genetic type that, within a species, has selected and propagated spontaneously to form a population (wild species).

What'is an ecotype?

The ecotype is a genetically homogeneous plant population obtained by mass selection in a circumscribed territorial context (district, region). The identity of ecotypes is therefore associated with the territory and is the expression of the interaction between the germplasm of a species and the specific environmental conditions of a region with human influence. Although they do not have a defined genetic and systematic identity, landraces are often of considerable agronomic and economic importance, as they are used both for the conservation of germplasm and the preservation of genetic biodiversity, and for the valorisation of typical regional products.

Did you know that...


Many legends are told about the olive tree... one of them tells that Hercules, at the edge of the world, picked an olive tree and there the sacred grove of Zeus was born, whose branches were woven to form the crowns of the winners of the Olympic games.

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