The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning “European olive”, (syn. Olea sylvestris) is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, found in much of Africa, 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, Mauritius and Réunion.
The species are cultivated in many places and considered naturalized in Portugal, Spain, Algeria, France (including Corsica), Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Crimea, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Argentina, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Java, Norfolk Island, California and Bermuda.
The olive’s fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. The tree and its fruit give their name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilacs, jasmine, Forsythia and the true ash trees (Fraxinus). The word derives from Latin ŏlīva (“olive fruit”, “olive tree”; “olive oil” is ŏlĕum) a borrowing from the Greek ἐλαία (elaía, “olive fruit”, “olive tree”) and ἔλαιον (élaion, “olive oil”) In the archaic form *ἐλαίϝα.