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Russian Olive
Elaeagnus angustifolia L.

International Code - ELAN
FIA survey code - 0997

Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.

acrobat version

Synonym: oleaster

Plant. Deciduous, thorny tree or shrub to 35 feet (10 m) in height with a single bole, many long narrow leaves, and many yellow fruit covered with minute silvery scales.

Stem. Twigs slender, thorny, and silver scaly becoming glossy and greenish. Branches smooth and reddish brown. Pith pale brown to orange brown. Bark dark brown and densely fissured.

Leaves. Alternate, long lanceolate to oblanceolate measuring 1.5 to 4 inches (4 to 10 cm) long and 0.4 to 1.2 inches (1 to 3 cm) wide. Margins entire (rarely toothed). Green to slightly silvery above with dense silver scales beneath. Petioles short and silvery.

Flowers. April to July. Axillary clusters, each with 5 to 10 silvery-white to yellow flowers. Tubular with four lobes. Fragrant.

Fruit and seeds. August to October. Drupelike, hard fleshy fruit 0.5 inch (1.2 cm) wide and long, resembling an olive. Light green to yellow (sometimes tinged with red). One nutlet in each fruit.

Ecology. Found as scattered plants in forest openings, open forests, and along forest edges. Thrives in sandy floodplains. Shade intolerant. Spreads by bird- and other animal-dispersed seeds. A nonleguminous nitrogen fixer.

Resembles silverthorn or thorny olive, E. pungens Thunb., which is an evergreen with brown scaly and hairy twigs, flowers in late fall producing few reddish silver-scaly drupes in spring. Also resembles autumn olive, E. umbellata Thunb., which has leaves with nonscaly upper surfaces in summer, flowers in early summer, and many reddish, rounded berries in fall and early winter.

History and use. Native to Europe and western Asia, a recent (early 1900s) arrival in the upper part of the Southeast. Initially planted as a yard ornamental, for windbreaks, surface mine reclamation, and wildlife habitat.

Photo by P. Breen

Photo by B. Rice

Photo by P. Breen

Photo by J. Randall

Photo by P. Breen

Photo by P. Breen

Photo by P. Breen

Photo by P. Breen

States with suspected infestations are shown in gray.

Recommended control procedures:

Trees. Make stem injections using Arsenal AC* or Garlon 3A in dilutions and cut spacings specified on the herbicide label (anytime except March and April). For felled trees, apply the herbicides to stem and stump tops immediately after cutting.

Saplings. Apply Garlon 4 as a 20-percent solution in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to young bark as a basal spray.

Seedlings and saplings. Thoroughly wet all leaves with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant (July to October): Arsenal AC* as a 1-percent solution in water (4 ounces per 3-gallon mix); a glyphosate herbicide, Garlon 3A, or Garlon 4 as a 2-percent solution in water (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix) for directed spray treatments that have limited or no soil activity.

*   Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.

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USDA Forest ServiceUSDA APHIS PPQ The Bugwood Network University of Georgia is a joint project of
The Bugwood Network, USDA Forest Service & USDA APHIS PPQ.
The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forest Resources and
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology
Last updated on Wednesday, November 05, 2003 at 01:37 PM
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