Societies have been growing and cultivating olive trees for millennia. Over thousands of years, our ancestors have treasured these fruits as well as the oils they produce.
That being said, not all olive trees actually bear fruit.
As a matter of fact, some fruitless varieties are considered to be ‘ornamental’ olive trees. While these do flower, they rarely grow any fruits.
In current times, we do not need to grow an olive tree to enjoy a selection of their fruits.
We are blessed with finding most of the olives we need in our local grocery stores whenever we need them.
However, the olives found in these stores are only a small variety of what is grown in the world.
If you live in a warm, dry climate, you stand a better chance of growing fruiting olive trees. Therefore, you can provide olives for your family and friends and even press the olives for their healthy oils.
With a wide range of olive trees, olive classes, and varieties of the world, it can be challenging to find what is suitable for oils and certain dishes.
That is why we have completed an in-depth guide on the different types of olive trees in the world today.
Continue reading to find out more.
The Arbequina (Olea europaea ‘Arbequina’) olive tree is popular among olive growers.
Native to the Catalonia region of Spain, this is best grown in containers. This is because it will remain smaller in more confined spaces.
With most olive trees being somewhat intolerant to cold weather, the Arbequina is quite unique. This sturdy tree can resist cold climates pretty well.
The fruits it bears are small and light brown with a relatively firm texture. As for the taste, the olives are quite mild and fruity, as is the oil.
Next, we have an important olive variety hailing from Spain. Mainly grown in the province of Jaen, Picual olive trees cover an area of over 1,000,000 hectares.
It is also cultivated in Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada. Over the years, the cultivation of this tree has increased due to its high yields.
The olives themselves are quite high in fat resulting in greater profit compared to most other types of olives in the region.
The olive oil from these olives also has high oxidation stability as well as high levels of Oleocanthal, a natural compound found in olive oil.
The Koroneiki is an olive cultivar hailing from Greece.
However, it is grown in many regions of the world such as Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, and the United States to name a few.
The olives from this tree are mostly used for the production of oil.
As a matter of fact, after the Arbequina and Arbosana olive trees, Koroneikie olives are some of the most common with one of the highest-density growing systems anywhere in the world.
The fruits of this tree are generally pretty small but are renowned for their high-quality oil yield.
Mission olive trees are another cold tolerant variety, especially when compared to most olive trees.
Although these are believed to have been native to Spain, Mission olives have been grown in California since the 1700s. This is because they were planted by Franciscan missionaries.
Growing up to 25 to 30 feet (ca. 9 m), these olive trees require full sunlight and whatever isn’t used for oil making is either oil-cured when black or brine-cured when green.
This helps make them into fresh and mild-tasting olives, perfect for snacking.
The Pajarero olive tree is named after the hugely appetizing and flavorsome olives that are loved by Zorzal birds.
Also known as Birdhouse olives, these are mainly cultivated in the province of Córdoba, Spain. The olives from this tree are very large and have high yields each year.
With a growing interest in this variety of olive, the extra virgin oil obtained from them is of the highest quality.
Native to France, Picholine olive trees are ideal for growing in containers.
The olives are famous for their crunchy texture and nutty, slightly spicy flavor. Of all olives in France, these are the most common and are popular for snacking on.
They are also perfect for cooking with and making mild-flavored oils.
The olives are usually harvested when they are green but are sometimes left to ripen until they are black if they are to be turned into oil.
The Wilsoni olive tree is a favorite among many olive enthusiasts.
A fruitless olive tree, this sports a beautiful trunk and even grows leaves similar to those of fruiting olive trees.
For homeowners who are looking to avoid the hard work of fruiting trees, the Wilsoni is a great option.
Thriving in heat and drought conditions, areas, where there is low water, is no issue for this tree.
We move from one popular and a rather famous tree to a lesser-known kind, the Chemlali. Known for its compact size, the Chemlali olive tree is ideal for those with smaller yards.
Originating in Tunisia, this tree requires full sunlight.
However, it is regarded as being relatively tolerant to cold weather conditions with reports that it can withstand zone seven temperatures.
This variety of olive trees is usually used for olive oil but is just as popular when used as an ornamental tree in backyards.
Manzanillas are one of, if not, the most popular olives consumed in the U.S. Brine-cured and usually stuffed with pimentos, these olives can also be tossed with garlic or olive oil.
Regularly used as a landscape tree, this eye-catching olive tree has a twisted trunk and, although it is a slow grower, it will eventually yield exceptionally high results.
The Manzanilla olive tree is a popular variety for shady areas making it ideal for backyards.
But, unlike some others on this list, the Manzanilla is not very tolerant to diseases such as olive knot or cold weather.
The Montra olive tree, also known as ‘Dwarf Olive’ or ‘Little Ollie,’ is of the fruitless variety.
More reminiscent of a bush, these trees are the perfect choice for getting that Mediterranean look in your backyard.
They are usually grown in small yards or pots and can reach a height of up to eight feet. That being said, they are typically pruned to a lower level to the ground to form hedges and borders.
Cold hardy (at least to 15 degrees), the Montra olive tree requires full sunlight and is also drought tolerant.
Native to central Greece, the Amfissa olive tree produces olives that tend to be brined-cured for their mild, fruity flavors.
These brownish-purple olives are sometimes covered in citric acid brine as well to allow their sharp, citrus flavors to shine through.
Compared to most other olive trees, the Amfissa tree is fast-growing and can produce fruit within three to four years.
Traveling back to Spain, we find this Spanish variety of olive trees. Hojiblanca olive trees are known for their unique leaves that boastfully have white backs.
In certain conditions, these seem to change colors and become luminous. This tree also bears high-quality olives, for which it is famed.
These olives are used for both olive oils and as regular table olives.
13. Nocellara Del Belice
This time, we are jet-setting to the island of Sicily to find the Nocellara Del Belice olive tree. The bright green olives of this tree have a milf flavor with a soft, buttery texture.
All around the world, many olive lovers will agree that these olives (marketed as Castelvetreno olives) are some of the best table olives around.
Growing to 15 -20 feet, the Nocellara Del Belice olive tree is pretty resistant to pests and diseases and, thanks to its large crown, it is considered a small shade tree.
We stay in Italy to study the Frantoio olive tree. This is a common but beautiful sight throughout the Tuscany region.
Considered a medium-large variety of olive trees, it is tolerant to cooler temperatures (down to 10 degrees) than most olive trees which is why it is grown widely in the Pacific Northwest.
Loved for proving delicious olive oil, Frantoio olives are just as good as table olives too with a nutty flavor.
15. Gordal Sevillano
We head back to Spain as we look at the Gordal Sevillano olive tree. This Spanish tree produces firm, thick olives that are perfect for snacking on.
You’ll just have a problem stopping after two or three!
The flesh of these olives is pretty soft, meaning they are easy to stuff with cheese, fruit, or pimientos.
As for the trees themselves, these are an attractive sight to behold with a willow vibe that is popular in landscaping.
And, best of all, the older this tree gets, the better it looks as its trunk becomes contorted yet graceful looking.
We finish our list in France with the Niçoise olive tree. This variety produces small, black olives which are often used in tapenade and, you guessed it, Niçoise salads.
The flavor of these olives is smoky and herbal. And, despite being found throughout regions of France, the Niçoise tree is actually native to Italy.
The olives are Ligurian and are harvested when they reach a mature dark-brown color.
They are then brine-cured and mixed with an assortment of different herbs. The trees prefer hot and dry climates and are recognizable thanks to their weeping, dropping branches and vast, broad leaves.
Wait just two years and the Niçoise tree will grow your first olives.
There is a vast range of olive tree species in the world.
What’s wonderful about many of these trees is that they produce unique olives that are unique tasting and ideal for all sorts of cooking and olive oil uses.
Whether you want to grow olives in your backyard or just enjoy the appearance of an ornamental olive tree, there is a type out there to suit your needs.
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