thorny olive USDA PLANTS Symbol: ELPU2
U.S. Nativity: Exotic
Habit: Shrub or Subshrub
Elaeagnus pungens Thunb.

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Taxonomic Rank: Magnoliopsida: Rhamnales: Elaeagnaceae
Synonym(s): thorny elaeagnus, silverthorn, spotted elaeagnus
Native Range: Japan (REHD): China, Japan (BAIL);

Thorny olive is a dense evergreen shrub that invades natural areas throughout the southeastern United States. The shrub is often multi-stemmed and short. Sharp shoots give it a thorny appearance. Shrubs can grow 3.3-26.3 ft. (1-8 m) tall. Shrubs are usually very dense with long shoots extending from the top. The leaves are alternate, oval to elliptical, with irregular wavy margins and silvery surfaces, 2-4 in. (5.1-10.2 cm) in length and thick. The axillary clusters of small, sweet-smelling, white to brown flowers develop in the fall. Plants rarely fruit, but fruit are small, red and dotted with small brown scales. Thorny olive closely resembles two other exotic olives, autumn olive and Russian olive. A high shade tolerance allows thorny olive to invade both in open areas and under forest canopies. The seeds are dispersed by animals, giving this plant the potential for rapid spread. Thorny olive is native to eastern Asia and was first introduced into the United States in 1830 as an ornamental.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Selected Images from Invasive.orgView All Images at Invasive.org


Cultivar; Elaeagnus pungens 'Glen St. Mary Compact'
John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Additional Resolutions & Image Usage

Fruit(s); Mature fruit with leaves in March
James H. Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, Bugwood.org
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Foliage; April
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Foliage; October
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s);
Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s);
Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Foliage;
Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Bark;
Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Fruit(s); Coastal plains, April 2011
Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); January. Photo from Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses by J.H. Miller and K.V. Miller, published by The University of Georgia Press in cooperation with the Southern Weed Science Society.
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
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Plant(s); October
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Additional Resolutions & Image Usage

EDDMapS Distribution:
This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts and records obtained from USDA Plants Database. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org
 


State(s) Where Reported invasive.
Based on state level agency and organization lists of invasive plants from WeedUS database.

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U.S. National Parks where reported invasive:
Colonial National Historical Park (Virginia)
Petersburg National Battlefield (Virginia)
Stones River National Battlefield (Tennessee)



Invasive Listing Sources:
Alabama Invasive Plant Council
Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council
Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council
Jil M. Swearingen, Survey of invasive plants occurring on National Park Service lands, 2000-2007
Jil Swearingen, personal communication, 2009-2013
Mid-Atlantic Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2005
South Carolina Exotic Pest Plant Council
Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2009