A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Ancient Olive Trees at Nanou

June 15, 2014

Just behind the Taverna on Nanou beach is a large flat area of scrub land with river washed stones scattered in piles all across the field that have been washed down from the mountains above during thunderstorms.

Amongst this scrubby land stand a dozen or so ancient olive trees, the age of which I can only guess at, maybe three hundred years old, who knows? I also guess this land was once cultivated as an olive grove and there are signs that the remaining olive trees are still tended to regularly.

The following is an extract from Wikipedia....

Old olive trees

Pliny the Elder told about a sacred Greek olive tree that was 1,600 years old. An olive tree in west Athens, named "Plato's Olive Tree", was said to be a remnant of the grove within which Plato's Academy was situated, which would make it approximately 2,400 years old. The tree comprised a cavernous trunk from which a few branches were still sprouting in 1975, when a traffic accident caused a bus to fall on and uproot it. Since then, the trunk has been preserved and displayed in the nearby Agricultural University of Athens. A supposedly older tree, the "Peisistratos Tree", is located by the banks of the Cephisus River, in the municipality of Agioi Anargyroi, and is said to be a remnant of an olive grove that was planted by Athenian tyrant Peisistratos in the 6th century BC. Numerous ancient olive trees also exist near Pelion in Greece. The age of an olive tree in Crete, the Finix Olive is claimed to be over 2,000 years old; this estimate is based on archaeological evidence around the tree.The olive tree, Olea europaea, is very hardy: drought-, disease- and fire-resistant, it can live to a great age. Its root system is robust and capable of regenerating the tree even if the above-ground structure is destroyed. The older the olive tree, the broader and more gnarled the trunk becomes. Many olive trees in the groves around the Mediterranean are said to be hundreds of years old, while an age of 2,000 years is claimed for a number of individual trees; in some cases, this has been scientifically verified.

An olive tree in Algarve, Portugal, is 2000 years old, according to radiocarbon dating.

An olive tree in Bar, Montenegro, is claimed to be over 2,000 years old.

An olive tree on the island of Brijuni (Brioni), Istria in Croatia, has been calculated to be about 1,600 years old. It still gives fruit (about 30 kg or 66 lb per year), which is made into top quality olive oil.

The town of Bshaale, Lebanon claims to have the oldest olive trees in the world (4000 BC for the oldest), but no scientific study supports these claims. Other trees in the towns of Amioun appear to be at least 1,500 years old.

There are dozens of ancient olive trees throughout Israel and Palestine whose age has earlier been estimated to be 1,600–2,000 years old; however, these estimates could not be supported by current scientific practices. Ancient trees include two giant olive trees in Arraba and five trees in Deir Hanna, both in the Galilee region, which have been determined to be over 3,000 years old, although there is no available data to support the credibility of the study that produced these age estimates and as such the 3000 years age estimate can not be considered valid. All seven trees continue to produce olives. Several trees in the Garden of Gethsemane (from the Hebrew words "gat shemanim" or olive press) in Jerusalem are claimed to date back to the purported time of Jesus.

Some Italian olive trees are believed to date back to Roman times, although identifying progenitor trees in ancient sources is difficult. A tree located in Santu Baltolu di Carana(municipality of Luras) in Sardinia, Italy, named with respect as the Ozzastru by the inhabitants of the region, is claimed to be 3,000 to 4,000 years old according to different studies. There are several other trees of about 1,000 years old within the same garden. The 15th-century trees of Olivo della Linza located in Alliste province of Lecce in Puglia were noted by Bishop Ludovico de Pennis during his pastoral visit to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nardò-Gallipoli in 1452.

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