|Elaeagnus angustifolia subsp. var.||Russian silverberry, oleaster, Russian-olive|
Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian silverberry, oleaster, or Russian-olive) is a species of Elaeagnus, native to western and central Asia, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to Turkey and Iran. It is now also widely established in North America as an introduced species.
Elaeagnus angustifolia is a usually thorny shrub or small tree growing to 5–7 m in height. Its stems, buds, and leaves have a dense covering of silvery to rusty scales. The leaves are alternate, lanceolate, 4–9 cm long and 1-2.5 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The highly aromatic flowers, produced in clusters of 1-3, are 1 cm long with a four-lobed creamy yellow corolla; they appear in early summer and are followed by clusters of fruit, a small cherry-like drupe 1-1.7 cm long, orange-red covered in silvery scales. The fruits are edible and sweet, though with a dryish, mealy texture. Its common name comes from its similarity in appearance to the olive (Olea europaea), in a different botanical family, Oleaceae.
The dried powder of the fruits are used mixed with milk in Iran for rheumatoid arthritis and joint pains. It is also one of the seven items which are used in Haft Sin or the seven 'S's which is a traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Persian spring celebration.
Elaeagnus angustifolia was described as Zizyphus cappadocica by John Gerard, was certainly grown by John Parkinson by 1633, and was being grown in Germany in 1736. It is now widely grown across southern and central Europe as a drought-resistant ornamental plant for its scented flowers, edible fruit, attractive silver foliage, and black bark.
The species was introduced into North America in the late 19th century, and subsequently escaped cultivation, because its fruits, which seldom ripen in England, are relished by birds which disperse the seeds. Russian-olive is considered to be an invasive species in many places in the United States because it thrives on poor soil, has low seedling mortality rates, matures in a few years, and outcompetes wild native vegetation. It often invades riparian habitats where overstory cottonwoods have died.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Elaeagnus angustifolia, Linn. (E. hortensis, Bieb.). Oleaster. Shrub or small tree, to 20 ft., sometimes spiny: lvs. lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, quite entire, light green above, 2-3 in. long: fls. short-pedicelled, 1-3, axillary, on the lower parts of the branches; perianth campanulate, tube about as long as limb, yellow within, fragrant; style at the base included by a tubular disk: fr. oval, yellow, coated with silvery scales. June. S. Eu. W. Asia to W. Himalayas. Var. orientals, Dipp. (E. orientalis, Linn. f. E. hortensis var. orientalis, Schlecht.). Often spineless: lvs. often oblong or oval, usually rounded at the base, clothed more with stellate hairs beneath than with scales, usually glabrous above at length: fr. rather large to 1 in. long.Var. spinosa, Schneid. (E. spinosa, Linn.). Spiny: lvs. linear-lanceolate or lanceolate, narrowed at the base, scaly above and densely scaly beneath: fr. smaller.
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Establishment and reproduction of Elaeagnus angustifolia is primarily by seed, although some spread by vegetative propagation also occurs. The fruit is readily eaten and disseminated by many species of birds. The plants begin to flower and fruit from three years old.
Pests and diseases
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- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963
- w:Elaeagnus angustifolia. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
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