Elaeagnus angustifolia - Russian Olive
Family: Elaeagnaceae

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Elaeagnus angustifolia, Russian Olive or Oleaster is grown for its silvery gray foliage.The tree prefers a sunny location and is tolerant of most soil types, but can be affected by various diseases. It has become a problem invasive plant in some areas.

Pronounciation: e-lee-AG-nus an-gus-ti-FO-li-a

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form2 form Form

-a deciduous large shrub or tree, 20' tall x 20' spread

-over 15' tall and widespreading

-rounded habit

-fast growth rate (12-18" per year)

foliage Foliage

-leaves alternate, simple, deciduous

-willow-like (oblong to linear-lanceolate)

-1.5-3" long x 0.5-1" wide

-entire leaf margin

-dull green above and silvery below

-no autumn color


-small, 0.3-0.6" long, perfect (both male and female parts on the same flower)

-bell-shaped, but lacking petals (apetalous)

-silvery or whitish silvery on the outside, yellow inside


-appearing in May

-often not noticed as they are covered by the foliage


-drupe-like, yellow with silvery scales, edible

-0.5" long

-matures in Sept.


-young branches thin, silvery

-stems sometimes thorny, covered in scales

-older branches develop a shiny light brown color

-buds are small, silvery-brown and rounded, covered with 4 scales


-grayish-brown older brown

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-very adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions; thrives in alkaline soils and in sandy flood plains

-able to fix nitrogen so can grow on very poor soils

-tolerates cold, drought, salt sprays

-easily transplanted

-grows most vigorously in full sun

-does not do well in wet sites or under dense shade

-susceptible to foliar and stem diseases, but affected by few pests

-it may invade grasslands and sparse woodlands

-can be readily pruned and resprouts easily

-propagated primarily by seed


-zones 2 to 7


-native to Southern Europe and Western and Central Asia

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-silvery foliage

-adaptability and growth in poor sites


-from a landscape perspective: canker, Verticillium wilt and leaf spot destroy that silvery silhouette by killing many branches

-thorns may be present

-from an environmental perspective: troublesome invasive that creates heavy shade and suppresses plants that require direct sunlight in areas such as fields, prairies, open woodlands and forest edges; can displace native plants such as Cottonwoods and Willows in riparian woodlands; can become a monoculture covering many acres


-used as a hedge or screen, but may be an accent plant in the border or entranceway because of silvery foliage

-may be a foundation shrub

-can be massed along highways or seacoasts


-fine to medium texture

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-shrubs with silvery foliage or with wide adaptability to sunny locations (various Willows)


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