The oldest olive tree is in Greece, not Israel

At least half a dozen other olive trees in Greece are believed to be of similar age

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Claim: The world’s oldest olive tree is found in “Jerusalem, Israel” and is “estimated to be over 3000 years old”; a picture accompanying the claim shows a gnarly old tree with an extremely thick trunk.

Fact: The picture shows the Olive Tree of Vouves in the Ano Vouves village in Kolymvari, which is located on Greece’s Crete island; experts estimate that it is 3,000 years old.

On 23 June 2023, the Facebook page ‘Israel – Land of milk and honey’ posted (archive) an image of a giant tree with a very thick trunk, writing the following caption alongside it:

The world’s oldest Olive Tree is found in Jerusalem,  Israel 🇮🇱
The Olive is estimated to be over  3000 years old and STILL produces olives.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reverse-searched the image and found the plant to be the Olive Tree of Vouves.

We arrived at this conclusion through results from different reverse search image tools.

TinEye turned up a blog titled “Wisdom from The Oldest Olive Tree in the World” and a Reddit thread, the comments of which led us to the Wikipedia page of the Olive Tree of Vouves. It is located in the Ano Vouves village in Kolymvari in Greece’s Crete island.

Google Lens led us to the digital magazine Atlas Obscura, which says “it might even be the oldest in the world”.

Yandex Reverse Image Search directed us to a tweet by Brazilian content creator Fotos de Fatos, who says the Olive Tree of Vouves is “set in a cemetery on the island of Crete, Greece” and “still produces olives”.

We also looked at the text-based claim and found it to be false.

Treehugger — a modern sustainability information site cited in a Smithsonian Magazine article titled, “The Tallest, Strongest and Most Iconic Trees in the World” — says the Olive Tree of Vouves is the world’s oldest olive tree and lists it as seven out of 10 oldest trees of different species.

The Smithsonian Magazine states that “no one is certain” about the oldest trees’ ages but the Greeks of the Crete island claim that the Olive Tree of Vouves is the oldest, at “at least 3,000 years”, according to experts, while “in the West Bank, folks may brag that their Al Badawi tree, in the Bethlehem district, is the oldest olive of all, at between 4,000 and 5,000 years”.

“A half dozen other olive trees are believed to be of similar age,” the publication adds.

This website has more information on the Olive Tree of Vouves.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found the post by ‘Israel – Land of milk and honey’ to be the most viral one on Facebook, with over 73,000 reactions, 3,500 comments, and 13,000 shares, as of writing time.

This tweet (archive) by Twitter user @babs4america has been viewed more than 298,000 times.

Other posts on Facebook can be found here and here, while those on Twitter can be seen here and here.

Conclusion: The picture shows the Olive Tree of Vouves in the Ano Vouves village in Kolymvari, which is located on Greece’s Crete island; experts estimate that it is 3,000 years old.


Background image in cover photo: Lisa Boonaerts


To submit an appeal on our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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