Olive tree: 2.000 varieties causing allergies
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Hojiblanca, picual and arbequina are well known, but there are more than 2.000 varieties. And they do cause allergy.
Different areas, different olive trees
Around 200 varieties are cultured in Spain, and more than 2.000 worldwide. The bone is used to identify the different species, although this can be done also through DNA techniques or even microsatellites.
In Málaga the hojiblanca variety is cultured in the north of the province due to its high resistance to chlaky soils. There are around 250.000 hectares and is quite difficult to pick because of the small size of the fruit. Close to the south other varieties cultured are aloreña or manzanilla.
Picual is the most widespred variety with 900.000 hectares (around 1.800.000 soccer fields). It is also known as andaluza, fina (delicate), blanca (white) o de calidad (quality). Its oil is somehowe more bitter but it has a great conservation.
The Arbequina variety culture grew with the europen union aids . It comes from Cataluña and the oil is milder, useful to be introduced in countries not used to olive oil,
Other funny names are sikitita (sounds as “tiny” in Spanish), koroneiki or cornicabra, more resistant to cold temperatures and therefore very often used in the central areas of Spain.
The origens: where olive comes from
It seems the olive tree comes from Middle East some 6000 years ago. From there it was western spread: Italy, Tunisia, Spain, etc.
The first crops in Spain are as old as three thousand years (roman times).
In Antequera (Málaga) petrified hojiblanca olive bones have been found in roman oil mills.
Crossbreed with local wild olive trees made new species appear in every area. From these wild trees the best varieties were chosen because of their best fruits.
Why olive tree produces allergy
It is a recent allergy cause: it is known from the eighties and the first allergy causing identified protein was identified during the nineties.
The main protein is called ole e 1, but up to twelve proteins have been identified. Some of them may provide useful information, as proteins 7 and 9: they do mean severity.
Olive tree pollen is small, allowing it to fly and be widespread pretty easily. Also the huge olive tree plantations make it quite common to suffer olive tree allergy in Spain.
Olive trees in other countries
Some other countries are incrising its olive production: China produces some 30.000 tons every year. We can find them also in Australia, Chile or the USA.
Throughout the world there are two stips (north and south) where climate conditions allow olive tree to be cultured and grow.
Its use is multiple: food, cosmetics (oils, creams) or embellishment (gardens and parks)
And you: how many olive trees variety did know?
Last updated: may 10th, 2013