The Oldest Olive Tree on Hvar (and Maybe Elsewhere) – Wow!

Total Croatia News

A fascinating afternoon on eastern Hvar, the highlight of which was meeting an olive tree which might be older than Stari Grad. 

Coming from Manchester, I am a little jealous of my kids and their natural bond with nature – it is just something I never grew up with. It is a joy to watch them helping in the field, wanting to grow their own things, and generally exploring the rich natural offering that Hvar possesses.

It also has the benefit of providing some cheaper entertainment than trips to Disneyland.

“How would you like to come and see the oldest olive tree on Hvar?” I asked our eldest at kindergarten collection.

“Wow. How old?”

“Am not sure, but older than Grandpa for sure. And it is in a place called Zastražišće.” She was sold on the afternoon’s activity.

Ten years ago, I would not have recognised an olive tree if it was in front of me (that Manchester upbringing), but now I getting adept of appreciating the finer points of olive production, and all I can say after being led to the oldest tree on Hvar is – wow! 

As far back as 1962, it was estimated to be at least 2,000 years old, according to my guide from the fascinating Rubin oil press (of which much more later), the opinion of the well-respected Niko Duboković placed it as older than Jesus, and a government commission placed a protection order on the tree. 

Much later, a delegation of Italian agronomists visited and performed tests on the tree, and authenticated the age claims, and there is a certificate in Jelsa, which we will try and track down.  

If the tree is 100 years old or 2500, one thing is certain – it is mightily impressive, with a trunk intertwined with the rocks and measuring a reported 5.1 metres across.  As far as trees go, it is the most striking I have seen anywhere, with the possible exception of the Cedars of Lebanon.

I came home after one of the most interesting days in a very competitive year, and immediately went to Google to learn more about olive tree ages. I had always been told that the oldest olive tree in Croatia was in Kastela, near Split (some 1,500 years old) and that the oldest ones in the world were between 2,000 and 4,000 years old.

I found an article in Croatian to support the claim that I am not truly mad. 

One to investigate further, and I only wish I had had a decent photographer with me to show the tree in all its glory. To me, the age does not matter, it is a thing of outstanding beauty, surrounded by stunning nature in a forgotten part of the island. I will be back. If anyone has any more info on the tree, I would really like to hear from you. 


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