Elaeagnus angustifolia, commonly called Russian olive, silver berry, oleaster, or wild olive, is a species of Elaeagnus, native to western and central Asia, Iran, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to Turkey, parts of Pakistan and parts of India.[better source needed] As of 2020[update], it is widely established in North America as an introduced species.
Elaeagnus angustifolia is a usually thorny shrub or small tree growing to 5–7 metres (16–23 feet) in height. Its stems, buds, and leaves have a dense covering of silvery to rusty scales. The leaves are alternate, lanceolate, 4–9 centimetres (1+1⁄2–3+1⁄2 inches) long and 1–2.5 cm (3⁄8–1 in) broad, with a smooth margin. The plants begin to flower and fruit from 3 years old. The highly aromatic flowers, produced in clusters of one to three, are 1 cm long with a four-lobed creamy yellow calyx; they appear in early summer and are followed by clusters of fruit, a small cherry-like drupe 1–1.7 cm (3⁄8–5⁄8 in) long, orange-red covered in silvery scales. The fruits are about 1 cm wide and sweet, though with a dryish, mealy texture.
The species was described as Zizyphus cappadocica by John Gerard, and was grown by John Parkinson by 1633. Its common name comes from its similarity in appearance to the olive (Olea europaea), in a different botanical family, the Oleaceae.
The species was introduced into North America by the late 19th century, and was both planted and spread through the consumption of its fruits (which seldom ripen in England), 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 high seedling survival rates, matures in a few years, and out-competes the native vegetation. It often invades riparian habitats where the canopy of cottonwood trees has died. Its quick-spreading root system can make it pest-like.
In Iran, the dried powder of the fruit is used mixed with milk for rheumatoid arthritis and joint pains. There is evidence supporting beneficial effects of aqueous extract of Persian olive in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis with an efficacy comparable to that of acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
It is one of the seven items used in Haft-sin, a traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Persian spring celebration. The dried fruit, known locally as senjed, is one of seven served in its own syrup in a fruit salad called haft mēwa eaten during Nowruz in Afghanistan.
- "Russian Olive Species Profile". USDA. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
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- USDA, NRCS. (2020). "Elaeagnus angustifolia". The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
- Arno, Stephen F.; Hammerly, Ramona P. (2020) . Northwest Trees: Identifying & Understanding the Region's Native Trees (field guide ed.). Seattle: Mountaineers Books. pp. 287–288. ISBN 978-1-68051-329-5. OCLC 1141235469.
- Giblin, David, ed. (2020). "Elaeagnus angustifolia". WTU Herbarium Image Collection. Burke Museum, University of Washington. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
- "Elaeagnus angustifolia". in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora. Jepson Herbarium; University of California, Berkeley. 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
- Little, Elbert L. (1994) . The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Western Region (Chanticleer Press ed.). Knopf. p. 566. ISBN 0-394-50761-4.
- Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964) 1992, s.v. "Eleagnus".
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- Parkinson noted that it rarely perfected its fruit (noted by Coats 1992).
- Panahi, Y.; Alishiri, G. H.; Bayat, N.; Hosseini, S. M.; Sahebkar, A. (2016). "Efficacy of Elaeagnus Angustifolia extract in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial". Excli Journal. 15: 203–210. PMC 4908661. PMID 27330526.
- Sethi, Simran (2022-03-21). "Nowruz is banned in Afghanistan, but families continue to celebrate". NPR. Retrieved 2022-04-29.
- Deravian, Naz (2022-03-14). "For Afghans Abroad, Nowruz Is a Chance to Reflect". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-04-29.
- Jepson Manual Treatment
- Species Profile – Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library Lists general information and resources for Russian olive
- USDA Plants Profile
- Photo gallery