Thursday, 19 February 2015

Ode to Olive - the Tree of Life

The olive tree is native to Mediteranean basin, everywhere from Arabian world to Greece, Italy and of course Croatia.  Nowdays there are many hybrid cultivars but we are to talk about native olive. 

It is known that olive originates from Syria. The Phoenicians spread it throughout the Mediterranean, and the Greeks brought it here are a few centuries before Christ, while the Romans popularized and spread the olive groves. It is known that the edible olive has been cultivated for at least 5,000 to 6,000 years, mainly for olive oil which was the source of wealth for the acient civilizations, who used it as a basic foodstuff, for massage, for sacred rites and as fuel for oil lamps.  
During the ancient Olympic Games the fighters as a sign of victory, received a wreath woven out of olive branch.

The ancient Romans considered people who used the fat of animal origin and not olive oil- a barbarians. 

For Christians, olive is a sacred tree. The Bible often refers to the olive tree. Noah with his boat sent a dove in search of land, it returned with an olive branch in its beak. It was a sign of hope, a sign that the earth was green again, that life is back. Since then a dove with an olive branch in its beak is a symbol of hope and peace. Jesus was entering Jerusalem greeted with olive branches and spent his last night in the Garden of Olives.As a motive, olives is common in the art, for example, in the landscapes of the Mediterranean. The olive harvest is shown on Greek amphorae in the 4th century BC.

Olive tree is a symbol of peace, although peace under its tree were few. It is said that time and suffering  deeply cut into the bark, so is the face of farmers and fishermen often said to be flogged by bora and old as an olive tree.
In Croatia, the most famous famous are Olive gardens of Lun, millennia-old wild olive tree groves, one of three such sites in the world in general. Protected in 1963g. and declared a botanical reserve. We are talking about over 80,000 trees high up to eight meters on 24 hectars with about 1,500 wild old olive trees "Olea Oleaster" - beautiful wild olive trees which stand out for their age, size and fantastic shapes. On the whole Mediterranean there is no more such surviving wild olive trees in their natural environment. The cultivated olive tree has a wide space in which it grows, a wild olive tree as a forest species of Mediterranean evergreen species Olea Oleaster is now extremely rare.

An interesting fact about the oldest olive trees in Croatia:
 - In Kastel Štafilić near Split, growing olive tree is around 1750 years old, meaning planted around 260. year AD.- Brijuni old olive tree, established the age of about 1600 years
 - In Lunj olive oldest olive tree has about 1600 years
showing that they were planted 300 years before the arrival of the Croats in this area ..

Rab olives are right behind those listed above. According to current research, the oldest living olive trees on the island of Rab was found in village Kampor, planted back in 772.nd year, up to the 2015 counts fantastic 1243 years of age! And after almost 13 centuries it is still alive and gives the fruit - rightfully  "the tree of life". Eight meters of hight and still bears fruit, about 100 kilos of olives per year.

A series of Rab olives by age continues by olive from 978th ​​yr., 1129. yr., then 1281 year - all three from Supetarska Draga village, followed by olives from year 1317 and 1360 both from Palit and  one from 1398 year from Barbat village.

Especially interesting is the fact that all seven of the oldest olive trees on the island of Rab are located near the present and former monasteries in Kampor, Supetarska Draga and Barbat. We can conclude that the Church in the Middle Ages gave considerable attention to the spread of olive agricultural crops.
It is important to note that until the 20 ct. Lun land with the oldest olive trees on the Adriatic coast belonged to the diocese Arbe since its founding in year 530, therefore to Rab - so we can proudly say that Lun olives bear effort of Rab people and that the olive growing on the island of Rab is just as old. 
In Croatia are cultivated dozens of varieties of olives, and besides Dalmatian, very popular are Istrian olive oils. Olive oil is an essential ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine but it's healing properties have long been known, in particular of olive leaves. Ancient Egyptians used it for medical purposes and in mummification of Pharaoh, while later established cultures realised that the leaves are more useful to living than dead.

Naimly, the green fleshy olive leaf is rich natural source of compounds that have potent antibacterial activity.
In Dalmatia and on the islands the olive leaf is dried and then prepared as tea. This tea has been used against cough, flu. Today research reveals that olive leaves regulate pressure and sugar, feaver and influenza, improves the condition of the body in a number of diseases caused by microbes - pneumonia, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, influenza, meningitis, hepatitis B, herpes, etc. It is also good in the urinary problems and in surgical infections. It has also been proven that olive leaf prevents infection caused by the action of fungi.

So  "When you pass next to the olive, bow to it!"

No comments:

Post a Comment