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Seasonal Fruit Profile: Olives

January 8th, 2010

Growing tip: Olive trees are hardy, drought-tolerant and can bear fruit for a thousand years.

Did you know? The olive is a unique fruit—it is inedible unless cured, and is the only fruit from which a food oil can be extracted. (Other food oils are extracted from nuts or dry grains). The pulp layer surrounding the large central seed can be up to 30% oil.

In history: Olives were first planted in California at the San Diego Mission in the late 1700s, with the first olive oil reported to be produced in California in 1803.

About the fruit: Olives are native to the area that today includes Syria, Iran and Palestine; cultivation then spread to the Mediterranean basin 6,000 years ago.

Health: Olives are high in monounsaturated fat, which studies have correlated with cardiovascular health.

In the garden: Our olive trees are trellised to demonstrate the ‘super-high density’ olive farming method gaining popularity in California. Trees trained in this manner can be planted closer together than traditional olive orchards and can be harvested mechanically.

Learn more about olives by visiting our website.

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis,


Olive tree update

September 9th, 2009

If you have been by the garden lately, you may have noticed that some of the olive trees in the grove aren’t looking very healthy. The poor health of the trees is not due to neglect, but is due instead to a percolation problem that presented itself after the trees were transplanted last October.

What is a percolation problem? It simply means that the water cannot percolate, or absorb, into the soil. This is due in part to the the recent construction of the courtyard which contains the same compacted soil necessary to create a stable foundation for the surrounding buildings. The soil was compacted and then hardened, and now water simply sits there without draining, creating the perfect environment for a bacterial infection of the root system. Nevertheless, despite the fact that two of the trees appear to be dead, they still have live growth on them, and our Grounds crew is working hard to come up with a solution. Below is a photo of one of the trees being transplanted last October.