I don't know about you, but I love olives .........
There is a deep and diverse mythology surrounding ‘the first of all trees’
The olive was one of three trees (the others being the cypress and cedar) that sprang from seeds from the Tree of Knowledge
There are depictions of olive oil production in ancient Egyptian art, and a tool for pressing oil found among grave goods. Tutankhamun wore a crown woven with olive leaves, and Ramses III presented olive branches to Ra, the sun god, as a symbol of enlightenment.
Athena’s tree was reputedly planted in the Acropolis but was burnt to the ground during the Persian invasion of 480BC. The blackened tree was abandoned to the smouldering ruins but began to produce new shoots, from which, legend has it, every olive in Greece is propagated. Such a high value was placed on the olive that the Constitution of Athens was amended during the time of Solon (638BC-558BC) to include a law covering the cutting of olive trees. Regardless of whether the tree was on public land or in private ownership, a guilty verdict meant the death penalty for the culprit.
Olives became global plants from the mid-1600s, firstly as introductions to Latin America, then from the late 18th century to California, China and Japan.
In the medieval town of Pollensa there is an olive tree that seems to be clinging on to life by divine providence alone
Even as far north as Britain there are elderly olives to be admired. The largest is at Chelsea Physic Garden on the Embankment in London. Great uncertainty exists over the age of this tree (it is certainly more than 100 years old) but, remarkably, it often produces viable fruit in the comparatively balmy microclimate of the garden. Enough, in a good year, to make one whole jam jar full of oil.
The large, aged olive trees that can now be obtained at nurseries and garden centres are often a consequence of commercial imperative. As soon as the productivity of an individual tree declines, its number is up. In the past, trees would often be cut down and burnt but now the emergence of a market hungry for old trees with character has offered them a reprieve. A naturally shallow root system makes them relatively easy to lift and transport too. So a tree born on a Greek hillside in the years before the Battle of Hastings could conceivably end its days actually in Hastings.