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Getting to know the wood species: the olive tree

Olive trees (Olea europaea in Latin) are very long-lived trees, which produce a hard and compact wood, with intricate veins. They are mostly known for their fruits, from which we extract oil, whose uses are limitless.

Olive trees are as old as Mediterranean Sea and its culture. In ancient Greece the olive tree was considered immortal; Ulysses had dug the nuptial bed, the heart of his house, with it and with an olive trunk he had blinded the Cyclops Polyphemus.

Olive trees are divided into two varieties: the wild olive (Olea europaea L. sub. Europaea var.sylvestris), which grows in rocky environments, and the olive tree domestic (Olea europeae Olea europaea L. sub. europaea var. sativa), the latter species cultivated in various geographical areas of the world (Australia, South Africa, California, the whole Mediterranean basin, central and middle eastern Asia).

Characteristics of olive trees

Olive tree is a plant that grows slowly, reaching 20 meters or more in height and, sometimes, reaching trunk circumferences greater than 15 meters. Longevity can even reach several thousand years for some specimens. In Salento (Puglia, Italy), there is a millenary olive tree called “La Methuselah”. Its age is unknown and the opinions of the experts are conflicting because, in the absence of the heartwood, it is not possible to determine its age.

Olive wood usually has a yellowish colour, with dark veins interspersed with intrusions of pink. The intensity of all shades may vary depending on the geography.

The heartwood is a cream or yellowish brown, with darker brown or black contrasting streaks and occasional pink intrusions. The intensity vary depending on the geography and shades tend to deepen with age. Olive is somtimes figured with curly or wavy grain, burl, or wild grain.

Hard and compact, olive wood is used in carpentry, especially for fine furniture, stairs, parquet, tables and the likes. There are countless handicrafts of all types and shapes produced with its wood, especially with lathe processing for kitchen utensils, such as ladles, mortars, spice grinders, cutting boards, knife handles, salad bowls and more.

Numerical Strength Properties and Data:
Bending Strength =  psi or  kg/cm2
Density =  Lbs/Ft3 or  kg/m3
Janka Hardness = 2,700
Hardness =  lbs. or  kg
Impact Strength =  inches or cm
Maximum Crushing Strength =  psi or  kg/cm2
Shearing Strength =  psi or  kg/cm2
Stiffness =  psi or  kg/cm2
Specific Gravity = 0.72
Work to Maximum Load =  inch-lb/in3 or  cm-kg/cm3
Weight = 62 Lbs/Ft3 or 990 kg/m3
Fiber Saturation Point = %
Radial Shrinkage = 5.4%
Tangential Shrinkage = 8.8%
Volumetric Shrinkage = 14.4%
T/R Ration = 1.6

Olive flooring

The olive tree’s resistance to wear due to trampling is remarkable. Hence its use for the creation of fascinating wooden floors, whether parquet or planks.

Floorings made with this wood species are to be considered valuable for the richness, as we said above, of the shapes and colours. They are ideal for environments with plenty of space and light, to be able to grasp and admire all their chromatic and decorative expressiveness.

Architects and interior designers tend to use olive wood in combination with other wood species or materials, such as marble, to create luxurious geometric geometric.

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With over 15 years of experience within the industry, Paolo is an expert consultant of stone, tiles and wood flooring. Driven by the passion of what is aesthetically pleasant and practical at the same time, Paolo has a strong voice within the marketplace and he is not afraid to use it.