The seed is rich in an edible non-drying oil, this is used in salads and cooking and, because of its distinct flavour, is considered a condiment. There are various grades of the oil, the finest (known as 'Extra Virgin') is produced by cold pressing the seeds without using heat or chemical solvents. The seed of unpalatable varieties is normally used and this oil has the lowest percentage of acidity and therefore the best flavour. Other grades of the oil come from seeds that are heated (which enables more oil to be expressed but has a deleterious effect on the quality) or from using chemical solvents on seed that has already been pressed for higher grades of oil. Olive oil is mono-unsaturated and regular consumption is thought to reduce the risk of circulatory diseases. The seed contains albumen, it is the only seed known to do this. Leaves. No more details are given.An edible manna is obtained from the tree.
Maroon and purple dyes are obtained from the whole fresh ripe fruits. Blue and black dyes are obtained from the skins of fresh ripe fruits. A yellow/green dye is obtained from the leaves. Plants are used to stabilize dry dusty hillsides.Wood - very hard, heavy, beautifully grained, takes a fine polish and is slightly fragrant. It is used in turnery and cabinet making, being much valued by woodworkers.
The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, febrifuge and sedative. A decoction is used in treating obstinate fevers, they also have a tranquillising effect on nervous tension and hypertension. Experimentally, they have been shown to decrease blood sugar levels by 17 - 23%. Externally, they are applied to abrasions. The bark is astringent, bitter and febrifuge. It is said to be a substitute for quinine in the treatment of malaria. In warm countries the bark exudes a gum-like substance that has been used as a vulnerary.The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'Complete exhaustion' and 'Mental fatigue'.
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The olive is very commonly cultivated in Mediterranean climates for its edible seed, there are many named varieties. Trees can produce a crop when they are 6 years old and continue producing a commercial yield for the next 50 years - many trees continue to give good yields for hundreds of years, even when their trunk is hollow. They succeed outdoors in the milder areas of Britain, though plants rarely produce fruit when grown in this country, preferring warm temperate regions with mild moist winters and hot dry summers. Some reports say that trees often fruit in south-western England. Generally, older trees are hardy to about -10°c. They require the protection of a south facing wall when grown in the London area. At least some cultivars are self-fertile. Some cultivars have been selected mainly for their fruits whilst others have been selected for their oil. 'Mission' is grown for its edible fruits. It is vigorous, prolific and very cold resistant. 'Moraiolo' is grown for its oil, it is very hardy and strong-growing. Flower production depends on a 12 - 15 week period of diurnally fluctuating temperatures with at least 2 months averaging below 10°c. Pruning can encourage non-fruiting water-shoots. Weighing down or arching the branches can encourage fruiting. The plants fruit best on wood that is one year old so any pruning should take this into account. An olive branch is a traditional symbol of peace, laurel leaves were used by the ancient Greeks to crown winners of the Olympic games.Plants have male flowers and bisexual flowers.
Problems, pests & diseases
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