As the UK’s leading supplier of olive trees, we get asked this question a lot here at Olive Grove Oundle. But the truth is, we’re just as fascinated to know the answer as you are: nobody really knows how long olive trees can live for. We do know roughly how old the longest-living trees are, but there’s no telling how much longer into the future they’ll live for – olive trees are a marvel of nature!
How old are the oldest olive trees?
What’s believed to be the world’s oldest olive is located in Bethlehem. Nicknamed Al Badawi (meaning ‘the big one’), researchers who’ve analysed it reckon it’s somewhere between 4 and 5,000 years old – yes, really. How much longer it will live for is unknown, but it’s still going strong as you read this.
It’s not the only ancient example of the species, either. There’s another remarkable tree located on the Greek island of Crete. The Vouves olive tree still produces olives despite being at least 2,000 years old (based on a ring analysis). Despite this, locals believe the tree to be much older – it’s thought it could’ve actually been there for 4,000 years!
What is the average lifespan of an olive tree?
These aren’t your average olive trees – but even more ‘regular’ examples often live for hundreds of years. It’s estimated that the average lifespan of an olive tree is approximately 500 years.
How long has the species been around?
Humans have been reaping the benefits of olive oil for thousands of years. Archaeologists in the Middle East uncovered the remains of pottery containers at a Bronze Age town called Ein Zippori in 2014. Once analysed, these pot fragments were found to contain traces of olive oil. How old were the pots? It’s estimated that they’ve been around for around 8,000 years!
Explore our range of ancient olive trees
Olive trees really are remarkable – especially older specimens. If you’re fascinated to discover more and add one to your garden, why not explore our selection of potted and ancient olive trees? We deliver across the UK.