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Kingdom Home to One of Oldest Olive Tree Genotypes Mehras

Jordan has one of the most diverse representations of plant species in the globe, according to a research by the National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC). 

“Jordan is privileged to have two of the six global representations of the plant population,” NARC Director General Nizar Haddad told The Jordan Times.

Haddad said that part of Jordan’s plant diversity lies in its olive trees. He noted that there are three types of olive trees that currently grow in Jordan: Mehras, Karoud and Oud. 

Some types of olive trees are determined by the width of their stem, Haddad added.

According to a research paper on olive trees conducted by a research team from NARC and two Jordanian universities, the Mehras olive trees have an “ancient common ancestor” with olive trees in Italy, Spain, and Cyprus. 

Haddad, who is the leader of the research team said: “The historical olive cultivar Mehras, from the Maysar area in Hashemiya town of Ajloun, is considered one of the oldest genetic olive genotypes in the Mediterranean region.”

The research is titled “Complete chloroplast genome sequence of historical olive cultivar Mehras, in Jordan”, published in Taylor & Francis journal.

Haddad stated that the Mehras olive trees are a “very famous and rare” type of olive tree, found in the “Maysar” areas —  an Arabic word that translates to “plains in between mountains”.

The olive oil from the Mehras trees is “unlike any other olive oil”, he added, noting that there is an “added value that should be highlighted when selling olive oil extracted from a Mehras tree”. 

He stated that there is a new project underway that NARC is working on, which focuses on adding higher value to the olives and olive oil sold from the Mehras trees. 

Hadad stated that the centre, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Olive Committee, is developing a national agriculture plan; part of the plan aims to boost agri-tourism in the country, as well as providing farmers with special olive pressings machines for Mehras trees.