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Elaeagnus multiflora - Thunb.                
Common Name Goumi, Cherry silverberry
Family Elaeagnaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Thickets and thin woods in hills and on lowland, at elevations of 600 - 1800 metres[58].
Range E. Asia - China and Japan.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of shrub
Elaeagnus multiflora is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen in July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Synonyms E. longipes.
Elaeagnus multiflora Goumi, Cherry silverberry

Elaeagnus multiflora Goumi, Cherry silverberry
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[1, 3, 11, 15, 46, 177]. Pleasantly acid when ripe, they make a very good dessert fruit[K] though they are usually made into pies, preserves etc[183]. Quite fiddly and difficult to pick without breaking the young shoots[200]. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent[K]. The fruit contains a single large seed[K]. Seed - raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous[K].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antitussive;  Astringent;  Cancer.

The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers[214]. The leaves are used in the treatment of coughs[218]. The fruit is prescribed in the treatment of watery diarrhoea[218]. The root is astringent, a decoction is used to treat itch and foul sores[218].
Other Uses
Hedge;  Hedge;  Rootstock.

Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. Reasonably fast growing and providing a good screen in the summer, though much more open in the winter. It is a good companion hedge to grow, the plants enriching the soil and improving the growth of neighbouring plants[K]. A hedge in a very exposed position at Rosewarne in N. Cornwall was 3.5 metres tall in 1989[K]. Often used as a rootstock for evergreen species that are hard to grow from cuttings. It frequently sprouts from the base and can out-compete the scion[182].
Cultivation details                                         
An easily grown plant[184], it succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[11, 200]. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils[11, 200]. Prefers a light sandy loam and a sunny position but succeeds in light shade[11, 200]. Very drought and wind resistant[1, 11, 200]. Tolerates atmospheric pollution[160]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[184], but the roots are hardy to -30°c (although top growth will be killed at this temperature). A very variable species[266], it is often cultivated for its edible fruit in Japan, there are some named varieties[3, 11, 183]. Plants can crop in 4 years from cuttings[160]. They bear heavily in Britain[11]. The synonym E. longipes is sometimes accepted as a distinct species, differing mainly in having very long peduncles about 2.5cm in length[214]. The fruit is well hidden in the shrub and is quite difficult to harvest without damaging the plant[K]. The ssp. E. multiflora ovata. (Maxim.)Servettaz. produces brown fruits on long stalks[200], would this be any easier to harvest?[K]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. Birds love the fruits[160]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%. The small flowers are deliciously scented with a lilac-like smell, their aroma pervading the garden on calm days[K].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[78]. It should germinate in late winter or early spring, though it may take 18 months[K]. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking more than 18 months. A warm stratification for 4 weeks followed by 12 weeks cold stratification can help[98]. The seed usually (eventually) germinates quite well[78]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pot as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out when they are at least 15cm tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Good percentage[78]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 10 - 12cm with a heel, November in a frame. Leave for 12 months. Fair to good percentage[78]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78].
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[3]Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit.
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[15]Bryan. J. and Castle. C. Edible Ornamental Garden.
A small book with interesting ideas for edible plants in the ornamental garden.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[58]Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation)
The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
[78]Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
[88]RHS. The Garden. Volume 112.
Snippets of information from the magazine of the RHS. In particular, there are articles on plants that are resistant to honey fungus, oriental vegetables, Cimicifuga spp, Passiflora species and Cucurbits.
[98]Gordon. A. G. and Rowe. D. C. f. Seed Manual for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs.
Very comprehensive guide to growing trees and shrubs from seed. Not for the casual reader.
[160]Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987.
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[182]Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[184]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs.
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[214]Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994.
A quarterly magazine, it has articles on Himalayacalamus hookerianus, hardy Euphorbias and an excellent article on Hippophae spp.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
Jeff Grover Mon Aug 07 10:53:37 2000
I'm glad I finally found your web page. I've been growing Elaeagnus multiflora for six years as a fruit crop and have been searching for others doing the same.

The original two plants were E. multiflora grafted on either E. umbellata or E. angustifolia rootstock. This grafted plant produces blossoms in April to produce a heavy crop around the first of July. Besides wood ash from the wood stove there has been no soil amenities added. They are planted on a 25 degree slope with virtually no topsoil over clay .

The USDA Zone for here is 6 but due to the altitude (1400 ft) and heavy rainfall (45 in) we tend to get a lot of freezing rain in the winter and some very hard frosts late in the spring.

The reason I chose E. multiflora for an orchard crop was for the hardiness and the fact that deer won't eat them, as they have everything else in the orchard, and I can harvest a unique berry for the tourist market here.

The information provided on your web page is not available in American horticulture books and is an inspiration for me to expand my orchard.

Elizabeth H.
marguerite nabinger Fri Jun 1 07:59:14 2001
I was recently reading a website on sustainable agriculture called Wild Thyme Farm which is located in the Oregon/Washington area of the US. He was very enthusiastic about this plant and suggested planting it liberally in pasture areas for forage for cattle. He suggested the plant be coppiced so that it would put out abundant shoots after being cut back. That might be an idea for plant control if the eleagnus is running wild, just turn a herd of goats out in it for a few days!
Elizabeth H.
Gary Letterle Sun Sep 19 23:11:14 2004
I planted 2 Goumi seedlings in Late 2002. Now ( fall 2004 ) they are 7 or 8 feet tall and had their first crop. Lotts of 1/4 ionch berries. Birds got the outside ones ( about 25% ). the rest were tasty and slightly tart. We ate seeds and all right from the bush. Made good pies and jams also. Put 2 pruniungs in the ground in early 2004 and by the summer they were bushed out and 2 feet tall. Seem to propagate well that way. Gary Letterle West Farmington Ohio ( NE Ohio) letterle@intergate.com
Elizabeth H.
elchante Fri Apr 20 2007
Is the Elaeagnus multiflora plant and fruit like the Tibetan Lycium (Goji)?
Elizabeth H.
Ken Fern, Plants for a Future Thu May 10 2007
Elaeagnus and Lycium are not closely related. Lycium is in the potato family (Solanaceae) whilst Elaeagnus is in the genus Elaeagnaceae. However, from the point of view of nutrition, Elaeagnus fruits are extremely high in a number of nutrients and also contain essential fatty acids. This makes them a very valuable food that has very positive health benefits and, from this point of view, have an affinity with Lycium. One difference is that, whilst lots of research has been carried out into the health benefits of Lycium, little has been carried out into Elaeagnus. I believe that future research will show that several Elaeagnus species are at least as beneficial to the health as Lycium.
Elizabeth H.
Rob Thu Dec 6 2007
We have about 40 elaeagnus specicies growing over the last 5 years here on the Oregon Coast. The goumi started producing after 3 years and we got a nice crop this year of tart 1/4" berries with silvery outside sparkles on them. The autumn olive 'ruby' also produced but the berries were larger and sweeter. Propagation has been easy and we just sucessfully have about 100 seedlings which are rooted of the ruby and goumi, as well as pungens and autumn olive. We want to use them for goat forage, is any one doing this?
Elizabeth H.
Rob Thu Dec 6 2007
We have about 40 elaeagnus specicies growing over the last 5 years here on the Oregon Coast. The goumi started producing after 3 years and we got a nice crop this year of tart 1/4" berries with silvery outside sparkles on them. The autumn olive 'ruby' also produced but the berries were larger and sweeter. Propagation has been easy and we just sucessfully have about 100 seedlings which are rooted of the ruby and goumi, as well as pungens and autumn olive. We want to use them for goat forage, is any one doing this?
Elizabeth H.
Patti Fri Dec 7 2007
Rob, No, I don't have goats now that I have goumi berries. Years ago I raised goats. My guoui berry bushes produced a bumper crop of berries this Spring. I made dozens of jars of goumi jelly that have been appreciated as gifts to my family and friends. As far as goats eating goumi berries, I think the thorns may give them some caution although I've seen goats forage on blackberry bushes. The thorns on my goumi bushes are longer and sharper than on blackberry canes. I planted my goumis to attract and feed birds in my backyard and it works. elchante
Elizabeth H.
Sonja Wed Jan 9 2008
Two years ago we've planted some 200 goumi berry bushes, some of them inter-planted with apple trees, and irrigated alongside a road close to where we keep goats. The first year most of them grew over 6 feet in all directions. We had to prune them this year because they started to smother the apple trees. Our goats were the beneficiaries - not only did they eat the leaves, but the bark as well...
Elizabeth H.
Diane Mon Mar 17 2008
We planted two goumis in Spring, 2005. They produced a pretty good crop last year. I have been trying to find a source for recipes using goumi berries. I am most interested in making jams or jellies. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Elizabeth H.
Finoxy Mon Oct 5 2009
Gardens North mention this plant to be USDA 4. Same does Dave's garden.
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