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Olive Tree (14)

oliveOlive trees were introduced to our Islands in antiquity due to their economic importance. Formerly, the Olive tree was extensively cultivated, namely to supply food (olives) and for oil production, as indicated by the place names Żebbuġ and Żejtun. 

Some Olive trees found in Malta are very old – even 600 to 1,000 years old!

The Olive tree is an evergreen tree which is short and squat, having a broad crown, which rarely reaches 8 to 15m in height. Its trunk is usually gnarled and twisted. Its linear dark green leaves are leathery and whitish underneath, owing to a dense covering of short hairs which help reduce water loss. Its creamy white flowers are small and found in branched inflorescences.

In Malta we find a wild race of Olive tree which is very rare in Malta. This tree differs slightly from the cultivated species as it has smaller leaves and fruits.

The Olive tree has become naturalised and today is considered to be part of the Maltese landscape. It is protected through national legislation and permits are required from the relevant authorities to prune, fell or uproot such trees. MEPA is also helping to protect communities based on Olive trees through the designation of Special Areas of Conservation, such as Buskett.