A brief guide to some of the common trees found in Andalucia: alder, ash tree, avocado tree, carob tree, cork oak, elm, enebro, evergreen oak, fig tree, gall oak, juniper, jacaranda, lemon, maple, orange, polar, pinsapo, wild olive, willow and more.
Driving through Andalucìa, you will notice that the most abundant crop throughout the Andalucia - in particular, Jaen province, though also Seville, Cordoba and Almeria - is the olive. Line after line of olive trees, often on rolling hills, stretch for as far as the eye can see.
Gílded or a soft green, as thick and perfumed as an oriental spice, the unctuous extract of olive oil demands costly investment to ensure its cultivation, harvest and production. The inevitable result is a costly, yet nutritious and therapeutic nectar that helps promote good health, especially with regard the heart and bones.
As you travel along the mountain road from Granada, the white village which appears below in the valley, with its high-towered castle-church, resembles a ship sailing across a rolling sea of bushy, low-lying, gnarled trees... those trees that produce the cholesterol-free green gold which all the world desires.
The variety of olive tree growing in neat rows across Andalucia today is the Olea Europeae. It is sufficiently important to have inspired the Junta de Andalucia (Regional Government) to track every commercial tree. In fact each one has its own GPS co-ordinates and is carefully monitored by regional officials to ensure correctness for EU subsidies.
The olive and its oil represent a fundamental part of the Spanish diet. Cold pressed virgin olive oil is a natural product that is very easy to digest. It has become famous as one of the world’s healthiest oils because it is known to actually help keep cholesterol levels in check.
While olive oil forms the basis of the Mediterranean Diet, today even cheaper oils - such as sunflower oil – often take its place. In addition, much of the so-called olive oil sold at Spanish supermarkets is actually a mix of highly refined oil that has been obtained through chemical processes.
Spain produces more than 250 different varieties of olives to be eaten whole or pressed into olive oil. In reality, olives are a very bitter fruit and in order to eat them this bitter flavour has to be mitigated. This is done by treating the olives with an alkaline substance such as Sodium Hydroxide, a strong salt solution or with special techniques that use water.