The Olive tree is one of the most beloved, sacred trees and its place is firmly rooted in Ancient Greek tradition and mythology.
Traditionally, the olive tree is a symbol of peace and friendship, this association began in ancient Greece, as early as the fifth century.
Legend has it that Zeus proposed a contest between Athena and Poseidon for the control of Athens. Poseidon smashed his three-pronged trident upon the hard rock of the Acropolis, which unleashed a spring. Whilst Athena, produced an Olive tree, with its silvery-green leaves and abundance of rich fruits.
The Athenians chose Athena’s gift and, in turn, the Olive tree has remained a much-loved part of Greek life ever since!
It became clear that the Olive tree held special importance over all other trees when the great King Xerxes’ Persian armies swept through Greece. In 480BC, the buildings on the Acropolis, which contained Olive trees, were set on fire and destroyed. However, the olive trees ‘sprouted the same day to a height of two cubits’ (1 metre!). As well as this, seeds from the remnants of this sacred tree were replanted across Attica. Doing this, meant that all the olive groves, surrounding Athens, have a touch of Athena’s original tree.
Olive trees require little in terms of nutrition, as they have evolved over the centuries for poor, stony soils. Although they appreciate an annual top-dressing of fertiliser to keep them glowing with health! They are incredibly drought tolerant, and if allowed to grow naturally, may reach a height of 2 metres in 15 years.
You can read more about the Olive tree here.