Russian olive

(Elaeagnus angustifolia)

Conservation Status
Russian olive
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Weed Status
   
 

Invasive

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Russian olive is a moderate- to fast-growing, short-lived, deciduous, large shrub or small tree rising on a single stem. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 15 to 20 tall and up to 6 in diameter at breast height, though large individuals can reach over 30 in height.

The trunk is often crooked or leaning. The crown is low, open, and rounded. The branches are erect.

The bark on young trees is smooth and gray. On mature trees the bark is reddish-brown or purplish-gray. It is shallowly furrowed with orangish fissures that often spiral around the trunk. It sometimes peels in thin strips.

First year twigs are densely covered with silvery scales and sometimes also with star-shaped hairs. Second-year twigs are hairless, shiny, brown to reddish-brown, and thorny. They have white pith that is finely chambered, at least below the buds. The leaf scars show a single, extended vein. The buds are small and egg-shaped with 4 overlapping scales.

The leaves are deciduous, alternate, narrowly lance-shaped, 1½ to 3 long, and to ¾ wide. They are on to 7 16 long, scaly or hairy leaf stalks. The leaf blades taper to a point at the tip and are usually tapered, sometimes rounded at the base. The upper surface is dull grayish-green and may be sparsely to densely covered with silvery scales. The lower surface is densely covered with silvery scales. When young both the upper and lower surfaces are silvery white and densely covered with scales and star-shaped hairs. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is a cluster of 1 to 3 flowers rising from the leaf axils near the base of current-year twigs.

The flowers are 5 16 to ½ long and perfect (have both male and female parts). The 4 sepals are fused at the base into a bell-shaped tube, then separated into 4 triangular, spreading lobes. They are yellow on the inside, and silvery on the outside. There are no petals. The flowers appear in early June to early July.

The fruit is an oval, to ½ long, dry, mealy drupe. It is yellowish-brown but appears silvery when young due to a dense covering of scales. The fruit ripens in mid-August to mid-September and is dispersed by birds and other animals. The pit is oblong.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

15 to 30

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Yellow inside, silvery outside

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) leaves and twigs have rusty brown, not silvery, scales. Its range may not extend into Minnesota.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Prairies, roadsides, parks, farm shelterbelts.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

Early June to early July

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 22, 28.

 
  5/9/2020      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native of Asia, eastern Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Introduced and naturalized in North America.

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

 

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (dicots)  
  Subclass Rosidae  
  Superorder Rosanae  
 

Order

Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  
 

Family

Elaeagnaceae (oleaster)  
 

Genus

Elaeagnus (silverberry, oleaster)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
     
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Oleaster

Russian olive

Russian silverberry

Russian-olive

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Drupe

A fleshy fruit with a single hard, stone-like core, like a cherry or peach.

 

Pith

The spongy cells in the center of the stem.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

       
Visitor Photos
   

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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Tree

  Russian olive    
       

Bark

  Russian olive   Russian olive
       

Leaves

  Russian olive   Russian olive
       
  Russian olive    
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Elaeagnus angustifolia
Blake C. Willson
 
  Elaeagnus angustifolia  
 
About

Russian Olive Tree

 
     
  Elaeagnus angustifolia
Matt Lavin
 
  Elaeagnus angustifolia  
 
About

Introduced tree to 8 m tall, sometimes a shrub, the usually silvery twigs and narrow leaves distinguish this introduced species from the closely related native E. commutata, cultivated but often establishing in woodlands, thickets, and riparian areas in Montana especially in and around towns and agricultural areas (nutrient rich riparian areas).

 
     

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
       

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Other Videos
 
  How to ID Elaeagnus angustifolia
Laura Deeter
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Nov 19, 2008

Short video with the top identifying characteristics for Elaeagnus angustifolia

   
       
  Russian Olive - A Noxious Weed
Exploring the Nature of Wyoming | UWyo Extension
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Feb 17, 2009

Russian Olives are fast growing, nondescriminant, non-native trees found in Wyoming.

   
       
  Olive Russian Olive.mov
Growquest
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Dec 3, 2009

Olive Russian or Elaeagnus angustifolia is an excellent windbreak and wildlife tree. It is extremely tolerant of environmental factors. The best windbreak tree for high wind areas. Pictured is the Russian olive in a shrub form. Can be made into a hedge by planting 10' apart in the row. Russian olive is low in water requirements and displays a high tolerance for salt and alkali. Many russian olive plants have been planted for wild turkey and deer as a wildlife food source.

   
       

 

Camcorder


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