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|Olea europaea, Dead Sea, Jordan|
| Olea europaea|
The olive tree is a small tree. Its scientific name is Olea europaea. A long time ago, it came from the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean, from Syria and the maritime (next to the sea) parts of Asia Minor and northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea. It has been farmed for a very long time. The Ancient Greeks were farming it. They spread the trees to the western part of the Mediterranean.
Description of the tree
The Wild Olive is a small tree or shrub that grows up to 8–15 m tall with thorny branches. The leaves are opposite, 4–10 cm long and 1–3 cm wide. The leaves have a dark greyish-green color above and are pale with whitish scales below. The small white flowers, with calyx and corolla divided into four parts, two stamens and bifid stigma, are mostly on the last year's wood, in racemes coming up from the axils of the leaves. The fruit is a small drupe 1–2 cm long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars.
Uses of olives
Today, olive trees are grown for the following reasons:
- The fruit of the tree is used:
- The wood of the tree is very hard. It is used to make furniture or articles of everyday use.
- The leaves of the tree have some medical uses. It is said that the leaves have a calming effect. They are good for people going to sleep. They are also good for the immune system and to bring down high levels of cholesterol. The oil is good for the cardiovascular system (the heart, and the arteries, etc.) and the circulation of fat in the body.
The numbers behind
Very probably, the first olive trees were grown in Syria. From there they spread rapidly. In Ancient Greece, the tree was considered to be holy. Some city states (polis) like Athens punished people for cutting down olive trees.
The branches in the flag of the United Nations are those of an olive tree.