The Duke & Venerable Olive Trees

Sunday, March 11, 2018
By Louise Powell

GRA Centenary OliveThe Duke of Wellington’s estate in Íllora (Granada) reached an agreement with the owners of centenary olive trees, which were to be cut down. The fate of the trees had been hanging in the balance for the last two years.

The trees, some of which are nearly 600-years old, are now being dug up and transferred onto the Duke’s estate from their present location where they can live out their already lengthy lives. The Duke will pay a minimal price per tree and foot the price of their transfer.

The Spanish manager of the Duke’s estate, Javier Henríquez de Luna, confirms that the future of the 110 trees is guaranteed and hopes that they will soon again bring forth a bountiful harvest.

Salvation came through the Asociación Argentata, which is dedicated to the protection, promotion and spreading of the Olive Lucio as an intrinsic part of the natural & cultural heritage of Andalucia. This association, together with the manager of the Casería de la Virgen de Íllora, who is a specialist in this variety of olive tree, had raised the alarm that these venerable trees were to be cut down and set about looking for a philanthropist to save the trees – they found one in the Duke.

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When the news got out that the trees were to be chopped down, several town halls wanted to have some of them in their parks and gardens, but none of the town halls was willing to pay for the expense of moving them. Then came the agreement with the owner of the the trees and the Duke of Wellington.

The owners of the land where the trees stood originally had decided to cut them all down and replant the area with new olive trees for intensive farming – new trees are much more productive than ones that have stood for centuries.

The Duke’s estate, which was ceded to the Iron Duke for his part in expelling Napoleonic troops from the Peninsula between 1808 and 1814, is known as the Molino del Rey, and has received many royal persons, including Prince Charles in recent years.

The variety is Lucio and is native to the north and east of the province and are considered the ‘abuelos’ of all Andalusian olive trees.

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