Autumn Olive a Beautiful Species

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Autumn Olive

Also known as the Umbellate Oleaster, or the Japanese Silverberry, the Autumn Olive is a species belonging to the Elaeangus genus. This genus originated in eastern Asia before spreading to the Himalayas and Japan, but is now common in the US as well as Europe. This plant is a nitrogen-fixing, non-leguminous, woody shrub.


Autumn Olive is a deciduous shrub that grows to be between four and ten meters tall. There is no real restriction on its height, as the larger ones can grow to be twenty feet in height. It has a distinctive thorny, dense crown. The leaves are oval in shape and lack teeth. The upper surface is dark green or grey in colour and the lower surface of the leaves has silvery white scales on it. This is the most conspicuous character of the Autumn Olive and it can be seen from quite a distance.

Flowering and Fruits

This shrub has tiny, light yellow flowers that come into bloom during late April or May after the first appearance of a few leaves. The flowers and fruits are borne along the twigs of the shrub. The Autumn Olive flowers annually starting when the plant is between two to three years of age, and develop fruits when they are three years of age. The seeds are mainly dispersed by falling fruits and birds.

A single shrub can produce at least eight pounds of fruit. These fruits are quite small at less than one fourth of an inch, and are fleshy. They can range in colour from red to pink and every year they are produced in large amounts. The ripe fruits are edible and juicy and are good as fruit leather. They taste somewhat like a tart and have seeds that can be chewed.


This shrub is planted in central and eastern United States so as to provide shelter and food for wildlife. Additionally, it also acts as a barrier and screen along highways, which helps to re-vegetate and stabilize road banks, and to reclaim any mine spoils. This shrub has the ability to grow in infertile soil because nitrogen in the air is fixed within its roots.

The seeds of this plant have as much as seven to seventeen times the level of lycopene that tomatoes have. Lycopene is an antioxidant and is important as it has proven useful in decreasing the risks of prostate cancer. Research is being carried out on the medicinal uses of the lycopene found in this plant.

Care Tips

If you�re growing Autumn Olive as individual shrubs at home then the best way to control them is to cut the plant to the ground during later summer. Treat the ends with undiluted glyphosate concentrate. Alternatively, you could dig up the root ball. It�s safe to collect any fruit.

If the shrub has developed a thicket, then cut all the stems to the ground using a weed-eater or chainsaw. When the cut stems start to re-sprout, spray the foliage at ground level with a five percent solution of plyphosate that has surfactant in it.

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