Elaeagnus angustifolia

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Elaeagnus angustifolia
Elaeagnus angustifolia 0353.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Elaeagnaceae
Genus: Elaeagnus
E. angustifolia
Binomial name
Elaeagnus angustifolia
  • Elaeagnus caspica (Sosn.) Grossh.
  • Elaeagnus hortensis M.Bieb.
  • Elaeagnus oxycarpa Schltdl.
Fruit in the Muséum de Toulouse

Elaeagnus angustifolia, commonly called Russian olive,[1] silver berry,[2] oleaster,[2] or wild olive,[2] 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.[3] As of 2020, it is widely established in North America as an introduced species.[4][5]


Its common name comes from its similarity in appearance to the olive (Olea europaea), in a different botanical family, the Oleaceae.


Lepidote scales on E. angustifolia that give the leaf surface a silvery sheen

Elaeagnus angustifolia is a usually thorny shrub or small tree growing to 5–7 m (16–23 ft) in height. Its stems, buds, and leaves have a dense covering of silvery to rusty scales. The leaves are alternate, lanceolate, 4–9 cm (1+123+12 in) long and 1.0–2.5 cm (38–1 in) broad, with a smooth margin. 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 1.0–1.7 cm (381116 in) long, orange-red covered in silvery scales. The fruits are sweet, though with a dryish, mealy texture.[6][7][8]

The shrub can fix nitrogen in its roots,[9] enabling it to grow on bare mineral substrates.


The caterpillars of the high altitude alpine moth Lachana alpherakii use it as a host plant.[10] The fruit is readily eaten and the seeds disseminated by many species of birds. The plants begin to flower and fruit from 3 years old.


In Iran, the dried powder of the fruit is used mixed with milk for rheumatoid arthritis and joint pains. It is also one of the seven items which are used in Haft Seen or the seven 'S's which is a traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Persian spring celebration. 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.[11]

Ornamental plant[edit]

Russian olive (silver foliage) invading a rare cienega in New Mexico, United States

E. angustifolia has a long history of cultivation. It was described as Zizyphus cappadocica by John Gerard, and was grown by John Parkinson by 1633,[12] and was also grown in Germany in 1736.[citation needed] It is now widely grown across southern and central Europe as a drought and cold-resistant ornamental plant for its scented flowers, edible fruit, attractive yellow foliage, and black bark.[13]

Invasive behavior[edit]

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),[14] by birds, which disperse the seeds.[13] 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.


Establishment and reproduction of E. angustifolia is primarily by seed, although some spread by vegetative propagation also occurs.[13]


  1. ^ "Russian Olive Species Profile". USDA. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  2. ^ a b c Bailey, L.H.; Bailey, E.Z.; the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium (1976). Hortus third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-02-505470-7.
  3. ^ "Travel Tales – of Wild fruits and Pink Lotuses | Spinning a Yarn of L…".
  4. ^ Sullivan, Steven. K. (2020). "Elaeagnus angustifolia". Wildflower Search. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  5. ^ USDA, NRCS. (2020). "Elaeagnus angustifolia". The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  6. ^ Klinkenberg, Brian (Editor) (2020). "Elaeagnus angustifolia". E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Retrieved 2020-09-22.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Giblin, David (Editor) (2020). "Elaeagnus angustifolia". WTU Herbarium Image Collection. Burke Museum, University of Washington. Retrieved 2020-09-22.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Elaeagnus angustifolia". in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora. Jepson Herbarium; University of California, Berkeley. 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  9. ^ Forest Service Fire Ecology
  10. ^ Trofimova, Tatyana A. (January 2008). "Systematic notes on Dasorgyia Staudinger, 1881, Dicallomera Butler, 1881, and Lachana Moore, 1888 (Lymantriidae)" (PDF). Nota Lepidopterologica. 31 (2): 273–291. ISSN 0342-7536. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964) 1992, s.v. "Eleagnus".
  13. ^ a b c Little, Elbert L. (1994) [1980]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Western Region (Chanticleer Press ed.). Knopf. p. 566. ISBN 0-394-50761-4.
  14. ^ Parkinson noted that it rarely perfected its fruit (noted by Coats 1992).

External links[edit]