Long-lived Olive Trees

November 29, 2013

Olive tree Trunk around 900 years old (2)

Photographer: Menashe Davidson
Summary Author: Menashe Davidson

Olive_design_entrance-gate-The photo above shows an olive tree specimen (species Olea europea, family Oleaceae) believed to be about 900 years old. Because olive trees have annual growth rings that are dificult to detect (trees in tropical climates have short duration dormant periods) a particular tree's age can be challenging. However, a study carried out by the National Research Council of Italy has shown, by carbon dating methodology, that trunks of a few trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, Israel (behind the rock walls of the Church of All Nations) are around 900 years old. Roots of these trees may be even older.

The olive is one of the plants most often cited in western literature and art from olden times. The photo at left shows an olive tree design on the gate to the Church of All Nations. Olive trees tolerate harsh growing conditions and can even renew its canopy following a fire. Its fruit was once an important source of food for local populations and its oil has long been used for lighting, as an ointment and as an important ingredient in soap production. The Olive tree's leafy branches are sometimes used as symbols of glory, peace, hope, health and wealth. Photos taken in September 2013.

Photo details: Top - Camera Model: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 40.0mm (35mm equivalent: 60mm); Aperture: f/6.3; Exposure Time: 0.0063 s (1/160); ISO equiv: 1600. Inset same except: Focal Length: 20mm (35mm equivalent: 30mm); Aperture: f/3.8; Exposure Time: 0.033 s (1/30); Software: Microsoft Windows Photo Viewer.