Olive (Olea Europaea), Olive leaf
Main Facts about Olive
The olive tree, Olea europaea, is a small evergreen tree that grows best in a Mediteranean climate, but is also cultivated in regions with an appropriate climate. The olive tree is an evergreen tree with gray-green leaves, and small white fragrant flowers in the spring which produce a lot of pollen. A young olive tree has smooth gray bark, but as it gets older it gets very gnarled. A mature tree can reach a height of 25 to 30 feet, and live for hundreds of years. Some have even lived to be a thousand years. The olive fruit has a skin, a fleshy pulp, and a stony kerne, commonly referred to in American English as a pit or a rock, and in British English as a stone. As the fruit matures, it turns from green to black. Some archaeological evidence suggests that the Olive may have been domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean region approximately 6,000 -7,000 years ago. The olive tree played a huge role in the civilization of the Mediterranean countries. Athens was named after the goddess Athena who brought the olive tree to the city. Historically it played a very important role in areas such as religion, diet, and art. It is also known as the symbol for peace, wisdom and victory. In the early Olympic games the winners were crowned with wreaths made of olive branches. Holy people were anointed with olive oil, and Moses exempted men who would grow olives from military service. Olives are one of the most extensively cultivated fruit crops in the world. All parts of the olive tree have been widely used by humans. The main product of the tree is olive oil, which is extracted from its fruits and used in a wide range of applications from food to medicine and fuel. Olives are cold-pressed and the first pressings, which require no further treatment, are known as "virgin" ("extra virgin" olive oil is virgin oil that has a specified low acidity). Olive oil is also used in cosmetics and in the pharmaceutical industry, among other applications. The fruits themselves are also used for food, while various parts of the plant have been used in traditional medicine, and the wood has been used for fuel, construction and furniture.
Using OliveThe ancient Egyptians regarded olive leaf as a symbol of heavenly power, and in keeping with that belief, they extracted its oil and used it to mummify their kings. A decoction of the olive leaves had been found to be extremely effective in reducing fevers due to a severe and otherwise often-fatal disease that swept the island of Mytilene in 1843. The olive leaf extract was reported subsequently to be more effective in its fever-lowering properties than quinine. The leaves, bark and fruit of olive trees contain compounds which protect it from parasites and disease. These compounds are also some of the most powerful plant antioxidants known. Many people who live stressful lives or who may be particularly susceptible to colds and viruses may benefit from long-term use of olive leaf as a preventive agent. The benefits of olive leaf extract differ from pure immune boosters in that immune boosters stimulate your immune system to destroy disease which still requires your own energy. Olive leaf extract allows your body the opportunity to restore itself. It inactivates pathogens (disease-causing organisms) without harming "good" gut bacteria. For this reason it is preferable to use olive leaf extract before allowing an infection to advance to the point where you need an antibiotic drug. Olive leaf extract contains some of the strongest natural antioxidants discovered, much stronger than vitamin C and green tea and it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Compounds in olive leaf extract appear to inhibit the sequence of events leading to certain cancer formation in humans. The Mediterranean diet, (including large amounts of olive oil) is known for lowering the incidence of heart disease and various cancers which would support this theory. Olive leaf extract may be very useful for people with borderline high blood pressure. Doctors often recommend to patients that they start eating a Mediterranean type diet, exercise etc. to avoid the road to dependency on dangerous heart medication.
Caution!Olive trees are extremely allergenic. Olea Europaea is primarily wind-pollinated, and their pollen is a strong trigger for asthma. Cases of contact dermatitis and food allergy to the olive fruit and olive oil have been described. The proven blood pressure-lowering effects of olive leaf extracts are potent enough to warrant caution if you are are on blood pressure medication.
Cooking with OliveOlives are used both for their edible pulp and as the source of olive oil. Olive oil is used as a cooking oil, in salad dressings, and as a food preservative. Both green and black olives are pickled in brine. These olives contain less oil than those used for oil extraction. Olive leaf can be taken as a liquid concentrate, dried leaf tea, powder, or capsule.
How to grow OliveOlive trees need just the right climate to grow, hot in the summer, a slight winter chill, and plenty of sun They grow in in nutrient-poor, but well-drained soils. It needs full sun for fruit production, but also needs a slight winter chill for the fruit to set. Temperatures below 15°F will kill a young tree. They tolerate drought well, thanks to their sturdy and extensive root system. Olive trees can live for several centuries and can remain productive for as long if they are pruned correctly and regularly. In situations where extreme cold has damaged or killed the olive tree the rootstock can survive and produce new shoots which in turn become new trees. In this way olive trees can regenerate themselves. Olives grow very slowly, and over many years the trunk can attain a considerable diameter. Olives are propagated by various methods. The preferred ways are cuttings and layers; the tree roots easily in favourable soil and throws up suckers from the stump when cut down. However, yields from trees grown from suckers or seeds are poor. Branches of various thickness cut into lengths of about 1 m (3.3 ft) planted deeply in manured ground soon vegetate. Shorter pieces are sometimes laid horizontally in shallow trenches and, when covered with a few centimetres of soil, rapidly throw up sucker-like shoots. The olive is also sometimes grown from seed. To facilitate germination, the oily pericarp is first softened by slight rotting, or soaked in hot water or in an alkaline solution. If you have a protected city garden or live in a mild area, olives can be grown outdoors as long as you give them a sunny position and plant them in well-drained soil, for example, against a warm wall would be ideal. IN cold or northern regions winter protection in a conservatory for example, will be required. Once established they are extremely drought-tolerant, but plants will do better if watered regularly in dry spells during the growing seasons. To encourage strong growth, it’s a good idea to feed each spring with a general fertiliser.