Over on my other blog I am keeping myself amused this month with the Squares blogging challenge, and as frequently happens when hosting the challenge I find I have spare squares. This is one of them, and as I took it in Portugal last year I thought I’d share it here. Do you know what it is?
It is a newly grafted olive tree. A common sight in the Algarve in the winter months as farmers reuse old trees, rather than wait years for a new tree to germinate and grow.
Olive trees are very slow growing, and are also one of the oldest cultivated trees in the world. There is uncertainty when the first olive trees first appeared in Portugal as there is sparse documentary evidence. In researching this post I came across a blog which suggested it was as late at the 18th century, however most botanists and historians agree it was probably the Romans who brought olives to Portugal. It would appear though that it took a while for the Portuguese to consider it an important crop. Abu Zacaria, a renowned botanist from Seville, wrote a tome in the 12th century on their cultivation in and around Seville, and al-Idrisi, a 12th century Moroccan explorer also describes in depth olives and Seville in his extraordinary Tabula Rogeriana. However of olives in the Algarve there is little or no mention during this period, and even in our favourite book on Algarvian agriculture it highlights that Portuguese olive oil doesn’t have a great reputation. We though love, and much prefer it to the peppery Italian products that dominate English supermarkets.