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ELAEAGNUS angustifolia

Image of Elaeagnus angustifolia

Jesse Saylor

Family

Elaeagnaceae

Botanical Name

ELAEAGNUS angustifolia

Plant Common Name

Russian Olive

General Description

Russian olive is a large deciduous shrub or small tree that's remarkably hardy and beautiful but known to be invasive. It is native to southern Europe, Russia, central Asia and parts of China where it inhabits coastal regions, lake shores, dry river beds and mountainous areas. It has also become naturalized throughout much of North America. In addition to its graceful habit and silvery leaves it is valued for its edible fruit, quality timber and fast-growing nature.

The narrow, lance-shaped leaves of Russian olive are green above and silvery, gray-green below. Its brown, scaly, often thorny branches are covered with exfoliating bark that adds winter interest. Silvery white, strongly fragrant flowers with yellow centers appear in late spring or early summer and are followed by edible, olive-like fruit.

This resilient tree is very tolerant of most growing conditions from dry to moist and sunny to shady. It is salt and drought tolerant and commonly found along sandy, coastal lands. Russian olive is grown primarily for its foliage and fragrant flowers but also makes an ideal barrier, screen or hedge, if pruned to retain a shrubby habit.

There is a downside to growing this species in North America. It has escaped from cultivation throughout much of the country and is considered a problematic invasive species. For more information about the invasiveness of Russian olive see: http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/russolive.shtml .

All Elaeagnus species fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, a quality which allows then to grow better in poorer soils.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    12'-20' / 3.7m - 6.1m

  • Width

    12'-20' / 3.7m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Russia/Siberia, Mediterranean, Central Asia, Southeastern Asia, China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Salt, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Yellow Green, Silver

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Gray Green, Silver

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Gray Green, Silver

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Silver

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Hedges, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes