The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning "European olive", is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, found in the Mediterranean Basin from Portugal to the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and southern Asia as far east as China, as well as the Canary Islands and Réunion.
The fruit is a small drupe 1–2.5 cm (0.39–0.98 in) long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Since many olive cultivars are self-sterile or nearly so, they are generally planted in pairs with a single primary cultivar and a secondary cultivar selected for its ability to fertilize the primary one.
Imprints of larvae of olive whitefly Aleurolobus (Aleurodes) olivinus were found on the leaves.
The same insect is commonly found today on olive leaves, showing that the plant-animal co-evolutionary relations have not changed since that time. Spanish colonists brought the olive to the New World, where its cultivation prospered in present-day Peru and Chile.
Today, olive oil is still used in many religious ceremonies.
Over the years, the olive has also been used to symbolize wisdom, fertility, power, and purity.