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Cellina di Nardò is a variety with a dual purpose, for the production of oil and table olives, present in the provinces of Lecce, Taranto and Brindisi.

Cellina di Nardò

Cellina di Nardò, the typical olive cultivar with double purpose of Apulia region

Origin and Historical Outline

The diffusion of the Cellina di Nardò cultivar is attributed by some to the Saracens; in fact it is also known by the name of Saracena. Columella (4 -70 AD) writes about it, praising its aptitude for conservation in brine. Giovanni Presta (1720 -1787) starting from the writings of Columella (4 -70 AD), questions the Saracen origin and believes that the Saracens only contributed to its propagation.


Cafarella, Cellina inchiastra, Leccese, Olivo di Nardò, Saracena, Scurranese, Vosciola.

The tree: it has a high vigour, an upright-spreading habit and a medium-thick crown density.

The inflorescence: it has an average length, an average number of flowers and a compact structure.

The leaf: it has an elliptical shape with an average length and a high width; the longitudinal curvature of the plano-hyponastic plate and the color of the upper surface intense green.

The fruit: has a very low weight characterized by an average pulp/stone ratio; it has a symmetrical ellipsoidal shape, with a central position of the maximum mean transverse diameter. The apex and base are rounded. The mucron is barely noticeable. There are few small lenticels. Veraison begins in a diffuse manner and the color when fully ripe is black.

The flowering time of the Cellina di Nardò cultivar is late; while the veraison period is medium and scalar.

The Cellina di Nardò cultivar is partially self-sterile and is cultivated in olive groves where there are trees of the Ogliarola salentina cultivar, whose flowering is practically contemporary.

The oil content of the Cellina di Nardò cultivar is medium. The cultivar has a phenol content that on average just exceeds 100 mg/kg.

The oleic acid content is less than 70%.

Cellina di Nardò is also used as a table olive; with it are seasoned dishes based on vegetables, pizzas, focaccias and the typical seasoned bread called “puccia salentina”. When used for the production of oil, the resulting product has aromas of Mediterranean herbs, with hints of red berried fruits such as arbutus and myrtle not yet ripe. The taste is persistent and complex on the palate, with bitter notes of the artichoke and slight spicy hints. The persistent spicy note makes the oil ideal for legume-based dishes, cereal soups, red meats, game and bitter salads. The hint of wild berries makes the product also suitable for the preparation of desserts and for dressing fruit salads and fruit salads.

Cellina di Nardò was widely cultivated until 2015 in the province of Lecce (over 35,000 Ha), Taranto (over 15,000 Ha) and Brindisi (about 10,000 Ha), for a total of over 60,000 hectares. Its diffusion has drastically decreased due to the Xylella fastidiosa pandemic in the areas of major cultivation to which it is susceptible. It is one of the main olive varieties, together with the Ogliarola salentina included in the specification of Terra d’Otranto PDO extra virgin olive oil.

Iconographic source: LOMBARDO N. et A.A. (a cura di), 2004, Contributo alla caratterizzazione del germoplasma olivicolo pugliese. Istituto Sperimentale per l’Olivicoltura. Rende (CS).



Professor Maria Lisa Clodoveo
Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine
University of Bari

Dr. Enzo Perri
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA)
Research Manager
Director of the CREA Olive, Fruit, and Citrus Research Center