The olive’s fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil; it is one of the core ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine. The tree and its fruit give their name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilacs, jasmine, Forsythia, and the true ash trees.

Fossil evidence indicates the olive tree had its origins some 20–40 million years ago in the Oligocene region corresponding to Italy and the eastern Mediterranean Basin. The olive plant later was first cultivated some 7,000 years ago in Mediterranean regions