Of uncertain origins, the Hojiblanca varietal is the third most important in the Spanish groves. Proof of this lies in the almost 18 million olive trees currently growing throughout the heart of Andalusia. These trees are capable of adapting to extreme soils and climates, in which other varietals cannot always guarantee their own survival.

Cornelius could not believe his ears when he finally discovered the contents of that writ. Cesar had issued an order obliging all land-owners in Baetica to increase their oil production in order to satisfy the growing needs of the metropolis.

It was not the first time this anonymous subject of Rome had heard tell of the much-feared imperial decrees. In fact, just a few years earlier his neighbours from Ipagrum (nowadays known as Aguilar de la Frontera) had been obliged to pull up their Coccolobis vines, an autochthonous cultivar from the region. Yet, none of the previous mandates had affected him so directly.

His estate, located around 14 miles to the south of Igabrum (currently Cabra), perched on hilly and somewhat calcareous lands. There, only a few olive trees grew, that only sprouted fruits a couple of times per lustrum. So how could he obey the orders received?

After giving the matter a great deal of thought, he remembered that olive branch that he had planted in a rocky area a while back. The canvas trader who visited him every year on his route from Saguntum (now Sagunto) had given it to him. This olive tree was different to all the rest. It was not so sporadic and its roots took hold in the wild terrains that others had failed to conquer.

Cornelius decided to make a number of clippings and plant them very, very carefully around the original olive tree. With time, the new plantation succeeded in filling the amphorae Rome demanded with oil. This olive grove awoke the admiration of many farmers, although subsequent wars ended up ostracizing it.

With time however, this forgotten crop was fortunately rediscovered by new colonies which, admired for their generous production and the enormous refinement of their oils, decided to spread it throughout the area and export it to neighbouring regions.


As versatile as its many names

And so, the history of the Hojiblanca began in this curious and random way. A varietal which up until decades ago was known as Arola and Ojiblanco. Regardless of the name it receives, this olive tree type develops in perfect harmony with its surroundings, in this case mainly the south of Cordoba and to the north of Malaga, although it is also present in the provinces of Granada and Seville. Its habitat is, in short, the very heart of Andalusia, where the tough winters and the resistant calcareous soils put it survival to the test.

Also historically known as Casta de Lucena or Casta de Cabra, this is the third most planted varietal in Spain, as is made clear by the approximately 18 million olive trees currently in existence.

Its oils are considered the fundamental essence of three Designations of Origin. They are their raison d’être. This is the case of the Córdoba-based PDO Baena and the PDO Priego de Córdoba, where the Hojiblancos coexist alongside the admirable Picudos. For their part, in the province of Seville, the PDO Estepa has succeeded in masterfully combining it with the recently introduced Arbequina.

To wander through the cultivation areas is to walk through white villages brimming with history, beauty and traditions. Surrounded by mountains and slopes covered in olive woods, among which there are some magnificent examples capable of carrying loads weighing up to 800 kg of olives in the most generous years.

Yet to be discovered

The Hojiblanca is a prestigious varietal. So much so, that today a major commercial brand of olive oil uses its name, and its fruit is being more and more frequently consumed as a table olive in Spain thanks, among other things, to its acceptable quality and easy harvesting. They are fruits that ripen very slowly and delay the harvest, a fact that leads to certain amount of “vecería”, or alternation of high and low yield years, particularly among the oldest cultivars. Perhaps this is why the oils are so prized in both the single-varietal version and when combined with others to make a coupage.

Hojiblanca is a varietal that all consumers should be familiar with. Above all because it is most likely that the oils habitually used in the kitchen are made of this olive type and that these same fruits constitute the most recurrent aperitifs.

Main characteristics of the Hojiblanca varietal extra virgins


Polyphenols200 ppm(*)Low
Vitamin E362 ppm(*)High
Stability50 hoursMedium-Low

(*) parts per million



SpicinessMedium (Variable)



Green grassOccasionally
Green leafPronounced
Fresh grassOccasionally
Olivarama articles also appear in Olivarama magazine and are not edited by Olive Oil Times.

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