Olive (fruit)

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19th century illustration
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Lamiales
Family: Oleaceae
Genus: Olea
Species: O. europaea
Binomial name
Olea europaea
Olives as they are offered in many places

The olive (Olea europaea) is the fruit of the olive tree or "oliver". It is an important food crop in Italy, Spain and especially in Greece among other countries around the Mediterranean. It is naturally very bitter, but after a long time in salt, it becomes a tasty and healthy food (though very fatty - it is one of the fattiest cooking oils in use, even more than palm, canola and other vegetable oils). Olive oil is the juice made by crushing olives. In Roman literature, the olive branch is used as a symbol of peace: "extending the olive branch". In Christianity, too, it is seen as a symbol of peace, because according to the Bible, a dove brought an olive branch to Noah to show that the flood was over. Lots of important writers and illustrators use olive branches around text to give it a greater artistic credit (a similar effect is achieved with wheat).