Curiosities about olive trees

Why do olive trees have a braided shape?


The Salento landscape has always been characterized by immense expanses of imposing olive trees, some of them centuries old and others even thousands of years old.

Over time, these wonderful trees have become true living natural sculptures, witnesses of Salento culture as if they were historical monuments.

Their trunk has a curved and intertwined shape. Have you ever wondered how come?

Why do they have a braided shape?

Centuries-old and thousand-year-old olive trees are natural monuments for Apulia, fundamental to the culture and guardians of the history and traditions of our land.

The main characteristics that make them unique and different from any other plant species is their aesthetic appearance: they are imposing trees with considerable size and a curved, braided trunk.

What is this particular shape due to?

Like all trees, the olive tree grows very rapidly in its early years and, upon reaching a certain age, begins to slow down.

The changes they make each year are always hardly noticeable, but the result after decades is that of a twisting of the trunk from the bottom to the top and always in the same direction, that is, clockwise.

After years of study and observations, some experts have managed to find an explanation for this unusual phenomenon: it is the rotational motion of the Earth slowly influencing the shape of the trunk of olive trees.

When a tree reaches a certain size, its growth is slower and slower until it becomes almost stable, for this reason it is more likely to be able to sense the slow movement of the Earth’s rotation and to adapt.

Where do you find the strangest ancient olive trees?

Some centuries-old olive trees over the years take on increasingly strange shapes: some become small caves, others resemble animals, or some even take on human features.

Here are 5 Salento municipalities where you can find the most unique and strange olive trees on the Salento peninsula.

“The Last Kiss” between two ancient olive trees in Nardò 1.

Perhaps two of Salento’s best known and most photographed olive trees make up a unique plant sculpture, immortalizing the kiss of two centuries-old trees.

Located more precisely in Nardò, in the province of Lecce, the two trees of “The Last Kiss” have taken on this very distinctive sculpted shape over the years, so much so that they look like two human faces joining in an eternal kiss.

“Lu Matusalem” in Borgagne 2.

Among the countryside of Borgagne, a hamlet of Melendugno (Lecce), is the oldest monumental olive tree in Italy: “Lu Matusalemme.”

Its remarkable size and the features of its trunk make it unique and spectacular.

This olive tree is estimated to be more than 3,000 years old and even older than the Colosseum.

3. “The Queen” in Vernole

This centuries-old olive tree has lived more than 1,400 years in Vernole, in the province of Lecce. In 2012 it was dedicated to Michelle Obama in recognition for popularizing the Mediterranean diet in America.

This olive tree has been called a true plant monument given its grandeur and size.

“The Serpent,” “The Head,” and “The Waterfall” in Strudà 4.

Few were aware of these peculiar 100-year-old olive trees: hidden in the countryside of Strudà, more precisely in the area of Visciglio (Lecce), the diameter of each of them exceeds 3 meters.

They are true plant giants that, over time, have taken on unique snake-like, head-like and waterfall-like shapes.

5. “Lu Re” of Casarano

Another of the most scenic olive trees in Salento is “Lu Re,” located in one of the Casarano (Lecce) countryside.

Also a custodian of more than 700 years of history and tradition, it was named decades ago for its shape, size and bearing.

It is, in fact, one of the most majestic monumental trees in Salento.

Which of these olive trees did you like best? Let us know in the comments.

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