Many plants hold religious or cultural significance. For example, olive trees have been grown for centuries and have many myths and religious associations. The olive tree is a common symbol for peace and security - the offering of an olive branch originates from the biblical story of Noah and the Ark. The Greek goddess Athena was thought to have placed the first olive tree on the Acropolis and thereby became the patron deity of Athens.
Sandalwood is thought to be sacred and is important in Hinduism and Buddhism, it is an expensive wood which has a strong fragrance due to the oil in the wood. It is commonly used as incense in Hindu temples and to carve figures, boxes and jewellery. It is also used at funerals, bodies are burnt on sandalwood pyres or a necklace made of the wood is placed around the neck of the body.
The bel or bael tree is also a sacred tree and worshipped by Hindus. Lord Shiva is worshipped by offering bel leaves or fruit and a tree is planted at the temple. Young girls from the Newar ethnic group of Kathmandu are married to the bel fruit itself before their first menstruation.