Elaeagnus umbellata is known as Japanese silverberry, umbellata oleaster, autumn olive, autumn elaeagnus, or spreading oleaster. The species is indigenous to eastern Asia and ranges from the Himalayas eastwards to Japan. Because it fixes atmospheric nitrogen in its roots, it often grows vigorously and competitively in infertile soils.
Elaeagnus umbellata grows as a deciduous shrub or small tree, typically up to 3.5 m tall, with a dense crown. It commonly bears sharp thorns in the form of spur branches. The leaves are alternate, 4–10 cm long and 2–4 cm wide, entire, but with wavy margins. The leaves are covered with minute silvery scales when they emerge early in spring, but turn greener above as the scales wear off during the summer. In this the plant differs from the related E. angustifolia, which remains silvery until it sheds its leaves in the fall.
The flowers are borne in the leaf axils in clusters of 1-7. They are pale yellowish-white, fragrant, (often heavily fragrant) and have a four-lobed corolla 1 cm long. The fruit is a small round drupe 1/4 to 1/3 inches (0.65 to 0.85 cm) in diameter. The unripe fruit is silvery-scaled and yellow. It ripens to red, dotted with silver or brown.
When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible, and also makes a good dried fruit. Though the fruit are small, the tree bears them abundantly. They are tart-tasting, with chewable seeds. Their content of the carotenoid, lycopene, is some seven to seventeen times higher than that of tomatoes.
In some parts of North America where it has become naturalized, Elaeagnus umbellata is considered an invasive species. It is considered a "prohibited noxious weed" under the Alberta Weed Control Act 2010.
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- Species Profile – Autumn Olive, National Invasive Species Information Center, National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Elaeagnus umbellata.
- Black B, Fordham I (2007). "Autumn olive: weed or new cash crop?" (PDF). New York Berry News. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- "USDA GRIN Taxonomy".
- Parmar, C. and M.K. Kaushal. 1982. Elaeagnus umbellata. p. 23–25. In: Wild Fruits. Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi, India. at The Web site of the Center for New Crops & Plant Products, at Purdue University
- Munger, Gregory T. (2003). "Elaeagnus umbellata". Fire Effects Information System (FEIS). U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service (USFS), Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Retrieved 30 November 2012 – via http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/.
- Dirr, M. 1998. Manual of woody landscape plants : their identification, ornamental characteristics, culture, propagation and uses. Stipes, Champaign, Ill.
- Fordham, IM, Clevidence BA, Wiley ER et al. "Fruit of autumn olive; A rich source of lycopene" HortScience. Alexandria 36:1136-1137, 2001
- USDA invasive species identification sheet (pdf)
- "Alberta Invasive Plant Identification Guide" (PDF). [[Wheatland County, Alberta|]]. 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2013.