With tenacity, grace and character, the branches of the olive tree spread naturally

With an ideal climate for growth, olive trees have grown here in Corsica for thousands of years, already present in the Middle Ages, and were very much part of the original flora of the island, where picking wild olives was a regular tradition – a variety range consisting of Sabina, Biancaghja, Capannace, and Curtinese to mention but a few, also covering the whole region. With minimal requirements, olive trees can grow on rugged, dry, flat or even hilly land – ideal with the high temperatures this island can reach over the summer months, and with the lack of frost, the fruit fully ripens and matures on the trees, enabling a smooth delicious taste.

An extensive program of national replanting saw the day in 1956, resulting from an important freeze that had taken place, and in more recent times, around twenty years ago, many new plantations grew from the constant and increasing  popularity of olive oil, based on its valuable virtues. Multiple flavors, where one can sense almonds, hazelnuts, apples, rosemary and the intoxicating, but so necessary, scent of the ‘bush’.

A certain bitterness combined with spiciness, are important elements when tasting olive oil, being balanced, and are quality criteria rather than an imperfection. To be noted: Corsican olive oil can show shades of golden yellow. This stands to reason, as the riper the olives, the brighter the shade of oil, with colour coming from the chlorophyll in the fruit. These trees hold character, grace, tenacity  and faithfulness and their natural beauty attracts through certain  soothing qualities. They appear regularly in religious scriptures, where their importance has been exhibited, and the Bible here is a perfect example. A certain tradition as regards the collecting of the olives is perpetuated too in many places, where they fall naturally from the trees straight into the awaiting nets, thus, never touching the ground – and quite a pleasant sight for the eyes.

Now, let me tell you about our famous millennium olive tree – a Sabina variety, which is to be found towards the north of the island, on a private property near the convent of San Francescu, in the township of Oletta. Probably the most imposing found on this island, the circumference of the trunk of this olive tree, measured at 1.30m above the ground, is 10.50m, and it reaches 13m!

As for its age, this is extremely difficult to determine, as core drilling cannot be used for fear of weakening the tree. However, it is estimated between 800 and 1000 years old, a fine mature age indeed, but these trees have the capacity of existence that can very well go up to 3000 years – milestones of history.

Often looked upon as ‘immortal’, the olive tree is known to continue to grow even after its trunk has been destroyed – through thick and thin.

 

Photo: Arbres remarquables de Corse

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