There are hundreds of cultivars of the olive (Olea europaea). As one of the oldest and more important domesticated crops raised by humans, the olive tree has diverged naturally and with the assistance of man in to many varieties. Olive cultivars are first and foremost divided in to their location of origin; most names for cultivars come from place names. Secondarily, olives may be preferred for olive oil production or for eating as table olives, though many cultivars are dual-purpose.
Amfissa, also called the Amphissis, is a common Greek table olive grown in Amfissa, Central Greece near the oracle of Delphi. Amfissa olives enjoy protected designation of origin (PDO) status, and are equally good for olive oil extraction. The olive grove of Amfissa, which consists of 1,200,000 olive trees is a part of a protected natural landscape.
Arbosana a Spanish variety commonly grown for oil production alongside Arbequina and others, including in the United States.
Ascolano a cold-hardy table variety grown in California.
Barnea is a modern dual-purpose cultivar bred in Israel to be disease-resistant and to produce a generous crop. The oil has a strong flavour with a hint of green leaf. Barnea is widely grown in Israel and in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Australia and New Zealand.
Bosana is the most common olive grown on Sardinia. It is used mostly for oils.
Bouteillan is a cultivar grown in France for olive oil.
Cailletier grown primarily in the Alpes-Maritimes region near Nice and in nearby Liguria in Italy, where it is known as Taggiasca. When processed for salads it is known as Niçoise.
Cayon is an olive oil variety grown in Southern France.
Domat, a common Turkish green olive, a table olive and grown for oil
Dritta is a variety of olive tree typical of the DOP area known as Aprutino Pescarese in the province of Pescara (Abruzzo). Its olives yield an extra virgin olive oil featuring extraordinary chemical and organoleptic qualities.
Empeltre, from Pedrola, Aragon, a medium-sized black olive grown in Spain. Especially in Aragon and the Balearic Islands, it is also dual-purpose.
Frantoio and Leccino cultivars are the principal raw material for Italian olive oils from Tuscany. Frantoio is fruity with a stronger aftertaste than Leccino.
Galega, or Galega Vulgar, is a variety cultivated in Portugal.
Gemlik is a variety from the Gemlik area of northern Turkey. They are small to medium sized black olives with a high oil content. This type of olive is very common in Turkey and is sold as a breakfast olive in the cured formats of either Yagli Sele, Salamura or Duble, though there are other less common curings. The sign of a traditionally cured Gemlik olive is that the flesh comes away from the pit easily.
Hojiblanca originated in the province of Córdoba, Spain; its oil is widely appreciated for its slightly bitter flavour.
Kalamata, a large, black olive with a smooth and meatlike taste, is named after the city of Kalamata, Greece, and is used as a table olive. These olives are usually preserved in wine, vinegar or olive oil. Kalamata olives enjoy PDO status.
Koroneiki originated from the southern Peloponese, around Kalamata and Mani in Greece. This small olive, though difficult to cultivate, has a high yield of olive oil of exceptional quality.
Leccino and Frantoio cultivars are the principal raw material for Italian olive oils from Tuscany. Leccino has a mild sweet flavour.
Lucques is found in the south of France (Aude département). They are green, large, and elongated. The stone has an arcuated (bow)shape. Their flavour is mild and nutty.
Maalot (Hebrew for merits) is a disease-resistant, Eastern Mediterranean cultivar derived from the North African Chemlali cultivar in Israel. The olive is medium sized, round, has a fruity flavour and is used almost exclusively for oil production.
Manzanilla, a large, rounded-oval fruit, with purple-green skin, originated in Dos Hermanas, Seville, in southern Spain. "Manzanillas" means little apples in Spanish. Known for a rich taste and thick pulp, it is a prolific bearer, grown around the world.
Memeli, a Turkish olive used for split green olives, green olives in brine, black olives and olive oil. Clingstone.
Mission originated on the California Missions and is now grown throughout the state. They are black and generally used for table consumption.
Nabali originated in Palestine and is known locally as Baladi, which, along with Souri and Malissi, is considered to produce among the highest quality olive oil in the world.
Nafplion is a small green olive grown only in the Argos valley in Greece. Nafplion olives are traditionally cracked and cured in brine.
Nocellara del Belice is a large green olive cultivar primarily grown in Sicily. Also known as Castelvetrano olives in the United States, they have a mild, buttery flavor that makes them popular table olives, though they are also used to produce olive oil.
Picholine, is grown in the south of France. It is green, medium size, and elongated. The flavour is mild and nutty.
Picual, from southern Spain (province of Jaén), is the most widely cultivated olive in Spain, comprising about 50% of Spain's olive production and around 20% of world olive production. It has a strong but sweet flavour, and is widely used in Spain as a table olive.
Souri, grown in Lebanon near the town of Sur (Tyre) and widespread in the Levant, has a high oil yield and exceptionally aromatic flavour.
^Fotiadi, Elena "Unusual Olives", Epikouria Magazine (Spring/Summer 2006)
^a., Belaj; z., Satovic; l., Rallo; i., Trujillo (2002). "Genetic diversity and relationships in olive (Olea europaea L.) germplasm collections as determined by randomly amplified polymorphic DNA". TAG Theoretical and Applied Genetics105 (4): 638. doi:10.1007/s00122-002-0981-6.