PNG images: Olives

The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning "European olive", is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, found in the Mediterranean Basin from Portugal to the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and southern Asia as far east as China, as well as the Canary Islands and Réunion. The species is cultivated in many places and considered naturalised in all the countries of the Mediterranean coast, as well as in Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Java, Norfolk Island, California, and Bermuda.

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The olive's fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil; it is one of the three core ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine. The tree and its fruit give their name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilacs, jasmine, Forsythia, and the true ash trees (Fraxinus). The word derives from Latin ŏlīva ("olive fruit", "olive tree"; "olive oil" is ŏlĕum) a borrowing from the Greek (elaía, "olive fruit", "olive tree") and (élaion, "olive oil") in the archaic form *. The oldest attested forms of the Greek words are the Mycenaean, e-ra-wa, and, e-ra-wo or, e-rai-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script. The word "oil" in multiple languages ultimately derives from the name of this tree and its fruit

The olive tree, Olea europaea, is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia, and Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 m (26–49 ft) in height. 'Pisciottana', a unique variety comprising 40,000 trees found only in the area around Pisciotta in the Campania region of southern Italy often exceeds this, with correspondingly large trunk diameters. The silvery green leaves are oblong, measuring 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long and 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.

The small, white, feathery flowers, with ten-cleft calyx and corolla, two stamens, and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the previous year's wood, in racemes springing from the axils of the leaves.

The fruit is a small drupe 1–2.5 cm (0.39–0.98 in) long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage. Canned black olives have often been artificially blackened (see below on processing) and may contain the chemical ferrous gluconate to improve the appearance. Olea europaea contains a seed commonly referred to in American English as a pit or a rock, and in British English as a stone.

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