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Elaeagnus angustifolia - L.

Common Name Oleaster, Russian olive
Family Elaeagnaceae
USDA hardiness 2-7
Known Hazards None known
Habitats By streams and along river banks to 3000 metres in Turkey[93].
Range Europe to W. Asia, extending as far north as latitude 55° in Russia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Elaeagnus angustifolia Oleaster, Russian olive

Elaeagnus angustifolia Oleaster, Russian olive


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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Elaeagnus angustifolia is a deciduous Shrub growing to 7 m (23ft) by 7 m (23ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is 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: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


E. argentea. non Pursh. E. hortensis.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Seed
Edible Uses: Gum

Fruit - raw or cooked as a seasoning in soups[1, 2, 3, 100, 146, 74]. Dry, sweet and mealy[11, 145, 183]. The fruit can also be made into jellies or sherbets[183]. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent[K]. The oval fruit is about 10mm long[200] and 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].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Cancer  Febrifuge  Pectoral

The oil from the seeds is used with syrup as an electuary in the treatment of catarrh and bronchial affections[240]. The juice of the flowers has been used in the treatment of malignant fevers[240]. 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].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Companion  Essential  Fodder  Fuel  Gum  Hedge  Hedge  Wood

Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions[29], tolerating maritime exposure[200]. It is fairly fast-growing and very tolerant of pruning, but is rather open in habit and does not form a dense screen[K]. Because the plant fixes atmospheric nitrogen, it makes a hedge that enriches the soil rather than depriving it of nutrients[K]. An essential oil obtained from the flowers is used in perfumery[74]. A gum from the plant is used in the textile industry in calico printing[74]. Wood - hard, fine-grained. Used for posts, beams, domestic items[74, 100], it is also much used for carving[245]. The wood is an excellent fuel[74, 146].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Hedge  Hedge  Nitrogen Fixer  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Fodder: Bank  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Coppice  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

Landscape Uses:Screen, Specimen. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[200], though it dislikes shallow chalk soils[98]. Prefers a light sandy soil that is only moderately fertile[11], succeeding in poor soils and dry soils[11, 200]. Requires a position in full sun, growing very well in hot dry positions[182]. Plants are very drought and wind resistant[1, 166, 200], they tolerate conditions of considerable salinity and alkalinity[227]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -40°c[184]. However, plants prefer a continental climate[49] and are apt to be cut back in severe winters in Britain because the summer is often not warm enough to have fully ripened the wood[1]. A very variable species[214]. This species is often cultivated in N. Europe for its edible fruits, there are many named varieties and some of these are thornless[214]. 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[160, 200]. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%. Plants are very tolerant of pruning, they usually resprout freely even when cut right back to the ground. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. The flowers are sweetly and heavily scented[184]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Fragrant flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is fleshy. Thick or swollen - fibrous or tap root [2-1].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

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. Difficult[113]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 10 - 12cm with a heel, October/November in a frame[200]. The cuttings are rather slow and difficult to root, leave them for 12 months[113]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78]. Root cuttings in the winter[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chhiolik, Giwai, Igde, Olajbogyo, Olajfa, Oleaster, Sand jujube, Sarseng, Sersing, Shersing, Shiulik, Zinzeyd,

Native Range

TEMPERATE ASIA: Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Russian Federation-Ciscaucasia (Ciscaucasia), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation (Dagestan), Russian Federation-Western Siberia (Western Siberia), Russian Federation (Altay), Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, China (Gansu Sheng, Hebei Sheng, Henan Sheng, Liaoning Sheng, Nei Mongol Zizhiqu, Ningxia Huizi Zizhiqu, Qinghai Sheng, Shaanxi Sheng, Shanxi Sheng, Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu) TROPICAL ASIA: India (northwest), Pakistan (northeast) EUROPE: Russian Federation (European part), Belarus, Moldova

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Elaeagnus commutataSilverberryShrub3.0 2-6 MLMHNDM324
Elaeagnus cordifolia Shrub4.0 0-0 MLMHFSNDM523
Elaeagnus formosana Shrub0.0 -  LMHSNDM22 
Elaeagnus fragrans Shrub3.0 - MLMHNDM222
Elaeagnus glabraGoat nippleShrub6.0 7-10 MLMHFSNDM423
Elaeagnus gonyanthes Shrub4.0 - MLMHNDM22 
Elaeagnus latifoliaBastard OleasterShrub3.0 8-11 MLMHNDM322
Elaeagnus macrophyllaBroad-leaved OleasterShrub3.0 6-9 MLMHFSNDM523
Elaeagnus maritima Shrub6.0 -  LMHFSNDM22 
Elaeagnus montana Shrub4.0 - MLMHNDM22 
Elaeagnus multifloraGoumi, Cherry silverberryShrub3.0 5-9 MLMHSNDM523
Elaeagnus multiflora ovataGoumiShrub3.0 5-9 MLMHSNDM523
Elaeagnus oldhamii Shrub4.0 -  LMHSNDM22 
Elaeagnus orientalisTrebizond DateShrub12.0 4-8 MLMHNDM422
Elaeagnus parvifoliaAutumn oliveShrub4.5 3-7 MLMHNDM422
Elaeagnus pungensElaeagnus, Thorny olive, Thorny Elaeagnus, Oleaster, Silverberry, Silverthorn, Pungent ElaeagnusShrub4.0 6-10 MLMHFSNDM523
Elaeagnus pyriformis Shrub0.0 - MLMHNDM22 
Elaeagnus thunbergii Shrub3.0 -  LMHSNDM22 
Elaeagnus umbellataAutumn OliveShrub4.5 3-9 MLMHNDM423
Elaeagnus x ebbingeiElaeagnus, Ebbing's SilverberryShrub5.0 5-9 MLMHFSNDM524
Elaeagnus x reflexaTurned-leaf ElaeagnusShrub4.5 6-9 MLMHFSNDM324
Elaeagnus yoshinoi Shrub5.0 -  LMHSNDM22 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


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Readers comment

Rich   Tue Nov 21 20:19:03 2000

Autumn olive is a very troublesome invasive species in Virginia. In addition to its prolific fruiting, seed dispersal by birds, rapid growth and ability to thrive in poor soils, Autumn olive resprouts vigorously after cutting or burning. It creates heavy shade which suppresses plants that require direct sunlight.

Although less abundant in Virginia, Russian olive poses similar threats. In the western United States it has become a major problem in riparian woodlands, threatening even large, hardy native trees such as cottonwood.

Taken from Virginia Natural Heritage Program.

Ken Weber   Tue Jun 21 20:41:10 2005

My son and I cleared Autumn Olive bushes from a Boy Scout camp as part of a service project here in Central Missouri. It had started to take over the edges of the woodland areas and was drowning out native species such as flowering dogwood and redbud trees. The caretaker at the camp said it was "good for nothing". I am a wood carver in my spare time, so tried some of the wood for carving and found that it is a beautifully workable wood for that purpose. It has a tight grain, dense, almost waxy texture when green. After heat treating, it becomes extremely hard and when sanded with fine grain sandpaper takes on a texture similar to a fine white marble or alabaster. It made for some beautiful walking sticks, a fine flute, and very nice wooden beads (made a lovely rosary). I found myself wishing I could find more places that wanted this invasive brush cleared, just so I could harvest the wood for carving.

david nicholls   Sun May 7 2006

I found Elaeagnus angustifolia performed pretty well in the face of regular hurricane force (120km/hr)winds with some salt. Better than any reasonable quality fruit tree I tried, I tried a lot. I abandoned the section for permaculture, wasnt there long enough to see if it fruited. Took one with me to my new sheltered moist place,it's not doing so well, lives but doesn't seem to be growing. I'd agree about it also liking dry & not too fertile. I wonder how good it tastes.

Kim Bentz   Sun Jun 4 2006

If can the flowers be used for teas? I don't wish to be foolish, but it's hard to imaging something so sweet being anything other than delicious, although harvesting could be a pain with the very short flowering season. If you have any information, please place comments on http://kim-bentz.blogspot.com. thanks.

   Nov 9 2010 12:00AM

I recently found this species growing wild along some waste ground near a stream and find the berries absolutely delicious! I've juiced them together with apples making a juice similar in taste to cranberry. I've dried some to add to cereals and I'm intending to make some jam. Here in Northern Italy it seems to ripen mid-November.

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