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Botanical description of the olive treeThe olive tree, Olea europaea, belongs to the family of oleaceae, around 900 species, which include, among others, lilacs, privet, ash… The leaves of the olive tree are opposite and are said to be decussed because two successive pairs on the stem intersect at right angles. The blade is lanceolate (12 mm x 80 mm approximately), leathery, dark green shiny on the top, silver gray below. The edges are whole and the petiole is short. Only the midrib is clearly visible. The foliage is persistent, the leaves have a lifespan of three years and are constantly renewed. Thanks to their regulating role in the storage of water, they are the essential element of the adaptation of the tree to the arid environment, in hot climates.
The flowers are small and white, formed by a tubular corolla with four rounded petals. Grouped in panicles, the inflorescences appear in the leaf axils, in early spring, on two-year-old twigs. As the flowers are hermaphrodite, the olive tree is naturally self-fertile, that is to say that fertilization is ensured by the pollen of its own flowers. Pollination is anemophilous (pollen carried by the wind), and concerns in the best of cases 10% of flowers, knowing that the tree must reach the age of 15 to 20 years to bear fruit, in the Mediterranean climate. The olive is a drupe (stone fruit), the skin of which is covered with a waterproof waxy material. During ripening, the flesh becomes loaded with lipids. The olive, this oleaginous fruit, remains green during the summer and becomes black at maturity (veraison), that is to say at the beginning of winter. The harvest is staggered from October to the end of winter, according to a number of criteria linked to the destination of the olives (fruit to be put in brine for table consumption or search for an oil, produced in the mill, whose taste qualities are inherent in ripening). The olive harvest is surrounded by a whole know-how: laying a net on the ground, manual or mechanized gapling technique, ventilation (separation of leaves), sorting and grading according to needs.