The history of the European olive tree dates back nearly 3,700 years, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. A well-known part of human lore, it contributes mightily to the human diet, as well.
The growth rate of the European olive tree is considered to be slow. Trees with a slow growth rate grow less than 12 inches per year. The olive tree (Olea europaea) typically achieves a mature height of between 30 and 40 feet with an equal spread.
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The olive tree grows well in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, specifically warm or coastal areas of the United States. The tree thrives in full sun and appreciates acidic or alkaline, loamy, moist, sandy and well-drained soils. Olive tree growth rate is not hampered by drought conditions; it is drought tolerant.
Although the growth rate of the olive tree is very slow, it lives an exceptionally long life. The University of Illinois reports that olive trees are still in existence today at an age of more than 1,000 years -- and still bearing fruit. The tree is able to regenerate from the roots even when the upper section is damaged.