The olive tree (Olea europaea) is a small species of tree in the family Oleaceae. It is native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin, Africa and parts of Asia. It is widely naturalised in southern and eastern Australia, particularly in temperate regions.It is most common in south-eastern South Australia, but is also naturalised in south-eastern and central Queensland, in the sub-coastal regions of central and northern New South Wales, in western and central Victoria, in many other parts of South Australia, and in the coastal and sub-coastal districts of south-western Western Australia. The history of Olive Farming in Australia dates back to the early 1800’s. Olives were first planted in groves around Parramatta near Sydney.
It is an evergreen tree that grows between 2-12 meters in height and has numerous branches. It is a subtropical broad-leaved evergreen tree with edible fruit. Its leaves, leathery and lance-shaped, are dark green above and silvery on the underside and are paired opposite each other on the twig. The wood is resistant to decay. If the top dies back, a new trunk will often arise from the roots. The olive fruit is classed botanically as a drupe, similar to the peach or plum. Olive trees bloom in late spring; small, whitish flowers are borne in loose clusters in the axils of the leaves.
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Olive Oil also contains chlorophyll which assists in the healing of skin conditions and reduces the visible signs of ageing. It is the ideal carrier oil for severely dehydrated skin and for general massage, although some types are a little too viscous. Unlike cooking, where virgin olive oil is the best, the first or second presses are the best to use for massage as they are lighter and do not have the characteristic peppery aroma associated with the culinary variety.
It is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, proteins and minerals.
It is also a rich source of squalene – a natural substance that is produced by humans, animals and plants. Squalene is a popular ingredient within cosmetics as it has excellent moisturising properties and can help regulate the production of sebum.
Clinical studies have shown that olive oil consumption may reduce cardiovascular risk factors, reduce cholesterol, may have a protective role on breast, colon, lung, ovarian and skin cancer development. Compounds specific to olive oil, known as phenolics, seem to possess free radical-scavenging properties and so may be able to reduce oxidative damage to DNA. It has also been shown to have beneficial effects on blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, digestion and immune function.
Most commonly used in cooking and food products, olive oil can also be used for cosmetics as carrier oil. Olive oil contains a lot of proteins, vitamins and minerals that can help the skin grow smoother and rejuvenate the hair’s lost shine and smoothness.
It is used widely in face and body creams, shampoo and conditioner, hair treatments, soaps and body wash, balms, skincare lotions, exfoliators, hand and nail treatments and moisturisers, massage oils, candles and household products.