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Valentine.gr  

September 2004

Did you know that in Athens 2004 Olympic Games the winners were rewarded with a kotinos - olive tree wreath like the ancient Greek athletes?

Olive (Olea europaea L) in bloom.

Olive - Olea europaea L

The olive, Olea europaea L., is in the title genus of the Oleaceae family. The olive is an evergreen tree growing to 15 m. in height with a spread of about 9 m. The tree can be kept to about 6 m. with regular pruning. The graceful, billowing appearance of the olive tree can be rather attractive. In an all-green garden its grayish foliage serves as an interesting accent. The attractive, gnarled branching pattern is also quite distinctive. Olives are long-lived with a life expectancy of 500 years. The trees are also tenacious, easily sprouting back even when chopped to the ground.

The origin of the olive tree is unknown. It is said to have appeared in prehistoric times, before humankind, and to have originated in southern Asia Minor where there are now abundant forests of wild olive trees. It appears to have spread from Syria towards Greece by way of Anatolia, although other theories claim it originated in the Mediterranean basin.

 Some hypotheses claim it to have originated in Ethiopia although, considering the climatic conditions of this country, this does not seem very probable. Others claim it to have originated in Lower Egypt, yet although mummies from the 20th Egyptian Dynasty have been found with crowns made out of olive branches, this only proves that, in effect, the olive was known by the Egyptians of that era. Caruso believes it to be native to the Mediterranean Basin and considers Asia to be the birthplace of the cultivated olive tree some six thousand years ago.

The claim that the olive tree originated in Europe could arise from the Greek myth about the fight between Pallas Athene and Poseidon for control of Athens.

Taking in the account that the perfect combination for the growth of the olive tree is a temperate dry climate with sunlight most of the year and an adequate habitat not far away from sea, the olive tree found the best conditions in Greece's relief map! Thinking of the above it is not strange that ancient Greeks created even myths for this tree and its origin. The most famous of these is the myth for the contest between Athena and Poseidon. Upon this myth at some time the Athenians wanted to select the protector of their town. The Council of the Twelve Gods of Olympus decided to satisfy them sending Poseidon the god of sea and Athena the goddess of wisdom for a contest. The premium of this contest was the protection of the town and took place in the holy rock of Acropolis. Poseidon started first and struck the rock with his trident. At that point a horse sprung out and rushing water, Athena replied and struck the rock with her spear; The first olive tree appeared! The Athenians finally declared Athena the victor considering her gift more valuable than Poseidon's one and thus the town took her name! The people of Athens and Attica were always proud of this event and considered the olive tree as a divine gift to them.

De Candolle, using a scientific base, claims that it nearly certainly originated in Asia Minor. Others, coinciding with this theory, claim it originated between the southern Caucasus Mountains and the high plateau of Iran and the Mediterranean coasts of Syria and Palestine, from where it passed to Egypt and by way of Cyprus, over to Turkey.

In the 16th century BC, the Phoenicians spread the olive throughout the Greek Islands, and, in the 14th to 12th centuries BC, to the Greek mainland, where its cultivation increased and gained great importance. In the 4th century BC, Solon issued decrees regulating the planting of olive trees.

Some historians, however, claim that archaeological discoveries prove that wild olive trees existed before civilization in Crete and that their cultivation began during the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, i.e. between 3500 and 5000 BC. From Crete the trees spread to Egypt (2000 BC), and thereafter to the islands, Asia Minor, Palestine and mainland Greece (1800 BC).

The existence of the wild olive tree (Olea Europaea Chrysophylla) have been documented in the Mediterranean region by various archaeological and palaeontologic studies. The earliest olive fossils have been discovered in recent archaeological studies in the caldera of the island of Santorini (Thera) and they date back 50-60,000 years. The cultivated variety of the olive tree descends from these early species. This botanical progenitor of the olive tree is still grown on the mountainsides of Crete.

The olive tree was a symbol in ancient Greece and the olive oil was used not only for its valuable nutritional quality but also for medical purposes. The symbolic meaning of the olive tree as well as the exceptional value of the olive oil is visible in overall sectors of the ancient Greece's life. A number of facts show to us the relationship between the olive tree and its product with some social activities. 

It is characteristic that when the first Olympic Games took place in Olympia in 776 BC a wrath of olive tree (kotinos) was the award to the winners symbolizing the armistice of any hostility and the peace. This symbolic award was given to winners until the end of the ancient Olympic Games!

Kotinos also was the emblem of Athens 2004 Olympic Games, A symbol with special meaning in terms of its history, shape, and color. In those games modern winners were rewarded with a kotinos wreath like the ancient Greek athletes. At the time, the kotinos was the official award of Olympic champions and was generally acknowledged as the most honorable prize. In addition, olive was the sacred tree of Athens. The kotinos is therefore also an emblem of the city where democracy and civilization were founded.

Source:
http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/olive.html
http://greekproducts.com/greek-olive-oil/history.htm
http://www.internationaloliveoil.org/tm/usa/about_history.asp
http://www.kotinos.com/origins.html

 

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Champak - Magnolia champaca
Hookerís lips - Psychotria elata
Suicide Tree - Cerbera odollam
Konjac - Amorphophallus konjac
Madagascar ocotillo - Alluaudia procera
Water Banana - Typhonodorum lindleyanum
Salak - Salacca zalacca
Natal Plum - Carissa macrocarpa
Ashanti blood - Mussaenda erythrophylla
Duranta - Duranta erecta
Maqui - Aristotelia chilensis
Manuka - New Zealand Tea Tree - Leptospermum scoparium
Suriname cherry - Eugenia uniflora
Australian Finger Lime - Citrus australasica
Sacred Flower of the Incas - Cantua buxifolia
Job's tears - Coix Lacryma-jobi
Velvet Bean - Mucuna pruriens
Java Apple - Syzygium samarangense
Screwpine - Pandanus utilis
Marimo - Aegagropila linnaei
Achocha/Caigua - Inca cucumber - Cyclanthera pedata
Rubber Tree - Hevea brasiliensis
Sugar cane - Saccharum officinarum
Sacha inchi - Plukenetia volubilis
Coffea - Coffee Tree - Coffea arabica
Liquorice - Licorice - Glycyrrhiza glabra
Mullein -Verbascum thapsus
Iceplant - Mesembryanthemum crystallinum
Chayote - Sechium edule
Roselle - Hibiscus sabdariffa
Black Goji - Lycium ruthenicum Murray
Rose Cactus - Pereskia grandifolia
Durian - Durio zibethinus
Jackfruit tree - Artocarpus heterophyllus
Cassabanana - Sicana odorifera
Chilean myrtle - Arrayan - Luma apiculata
Kurrajong - Brachychiton populneus
Rice-paper Plant -Tetrapanax papyrifer
Shell Ginger - Alpinia zerumbet
Harlequin Glorybower - Clerodendrum trichotomum
Coco de Mer - Lodoicea maldivica
Silver Tree - Leucadendron argenteum
Buffaloberry - Shepherdia argentea
Himalayan Honeysuckle - Leycesteria formosa
Raisin Tree - Hovenia dulcis
Borojo - Alibertia patinoi - Borojoa patinoi
Butterfly Pea - Clitoria ternatea
Honey Flower - Melianthus major
Ombu - Phytolacca dioica
Lion's Ear - Wild Dagga - Leonotis leonurus
Moringa - Miracle Tree - Moringa oleifera
Sea Daffodil - Pancratium maritimum
Spear Lily - Gymea - Doryanthes
Camphor tree - Cinnamomum camphora
Waterwheel - Aldrovanda vesiculosa
Flowering rush - Butomus umbellatus
Four o'clock - Marvel of Peru - Mirabilis jalapa
Dead Manís Fingers - Decaisnea
Bitter Melon - Momordica charantia
Shoapnuts Tree - Shoapberry - Sapindus
Acerola - Malpighia
Monkey Ladder - Sea Heart - Entada gigas
Cherimoya - Annona cherimola
Caper - Capparis spinosa
Lithops - Living Stones
Chaste Tree - Vitex agnus-castus
Chilean Lantern Tree - Crinodendron hookerianum
Parrot's Beak - Lotus berthelotii
Water Hyacinth - Eichhornia crassipes
Guaiac Tree - Guaiacum officinale - Lignum-vitae
Mickey Mouse bush - Ochna serrulata
Cow's Udder - Solanum mammosum
Miracle fruit - Synsepalum dulcificum
Akebia - Akebia quinata
Chilean Firebush - Embothrium coccineum
Caesalpinia - Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Welwitschia - Welwitschia mirabilis
Saguaro - Carnegiea gigantea
Schisandra - Schisandra chinensis
Monarda - Bee balm - Bergamot
Tamarind - Tamarindus indica
Neomarica - Walking Iris
Red hot poker - Kniphofia - Tritoma
Sikkim rhubarb - Rheum nobile
Reseda - Mignonette
Paulownia - Paulownia tomentosa
Belamcanda chinensis - Leopard lily
Blue Poppy - Meconopsis
Cannonball Tree - Couroupita guianensis
Tamarillo - Cyphomandra betacea
Goji - Wolfberry - Lycium barbarum
Vanilla - Vanilla Planifolia
Stevia - Stevia rebaudiana
Pachypodium
Physalis
Ceropegia
Sturt pea - Swainsona formosa
Clematis
Grevillea
Jade vine - Strongylodon macrobotrys
Sansevieria - Snake Plant
Trochetia
Yareta - Azorella compacta
African tulip tree - Spathodea campanulata
Angel's Trumpets - Brugmansia
Achiote - Annato - Bixa orellana
Sausage Tree - Kigelia pinnata
Castor Oil Plant - Ricinus communis
Firewheel Tree - Stenocarpus sinuatus
Bat Flower - Tacca
Snake gourd - Trichosanthes cucumerina
Sedum
Hydnora - Hydnora africana
Pickerel Weed - Pontederia
Argan - Argania spinosa
Astilbe - False Goats Beard
Feijoa - Pineapple Guava - Acca sellowiana
Aquilegia - Columbine
Cassiope
Sweet Box - Sarcococca
Christmas Cactus - Schlumbergera
Foxtail Lily - Eremurus
Rue - Ruta graveolens
Pittosporum
Ylang-Ylang - Cananga odorata
Rose of Jericho - Anastatica hierochuntica
Gunnera
Waterlily - Nymphaea
Calico Flower - Aristolochia
Daylily - Hemerocallis
Contorted hazel - Corylus avellana Contorta
Torch Ginger - Etlingera elatior
Mistletoe - Viscum album
Devil´s claw - Harpagophytum procumbens
Teasel - Dipsacus
Pampas grass - Gynerium argenteum - Cortaderia Selloanna
Purple coneflower - Echinacea purpurea
Coral Tree - Erythrina crista-galli
Portulaca
Lobelia
Field Poppy - Papaver Rhoeas
Narcissus - Daffodil
Mimosa pudica - Sensitive Plant
Boxwood - Buxus sempervirens
Firethorn - Pyracantha
Star of Bethlehem - Ornithogalum
Cosmos
Muscari - Grape Hyacinth
Papyrus - Cyperus papyrus
Zinnia
Honeysuckle - Lonicera
Passiflora - Passion Flower
Calendula - Marigold
Lupine - Lupinus
Canna - Indian Shot
Witch Hazel - Hamamelis
Oak - Quercus
Brunsvigia - Candelabra Flower
Tree peony - Paeonia suffruticosa
Olive - Olea europaea
Cornflower - Centaurea cyanus
Desert rose - Adenium obesum
Oleander - Nerium Oleander
Abutilon
Sweet Pea - Lathyrus odoratus
Chaenomeles - Flowering Quince
Forsythia
Amaryllis - Hippeastrum
Butchers broom - Ruscus aculeatus
Bay Laurel - Laurus nobilis
Gloriosa
Bamboo
Gladiolus
Artichoke - Cynara scolymus
Clivia - Clivia Miniata
Dipladenia - Dipladenia sanderii
Date palm - Phoenix dactylifera
Peach - Prunus persica
Almond - Prunus amygdalus
Willow - Salix
Pomegranate - Punica granatum
Protea cynaroides
Colchicum autumnale
Bird of Paradise - Strelitzia reginae
Cardon - Pachycereus pringlei
Wolffia arrhiza
Puya raimondii
Fuchsia
Asphodelus - Asphodel
Primula - Primerose
Dicentra spectabilis - Bleeding Heart
Edelweiss - Leontopodium alpinum
Helleborus Niger - Christmas Rose
Zantedeschia - Calla Lily
Fritillaria imperialis - Crown imperial
Aster
Heliconia
Common Sunflower - Helianthus annuus
Bee Orchid - Orphys apifera
Convalaria majalis - Lily of the Valley - Muguet
Syringa Vurgaris - Lilac
Viola
Impantiens
Snowdrop - Galanthus
Poinsettia - Euphorbia pulcherrima
Dionaea muscipula
Banksia
Sea anemone
Amorrhophallus titanum
Rafflesia arnoldi

 

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