Elaeagnus umbellata

Common Names: Autumn olive, Japanese silverberry, umbellata oleaster, autumn elaeagnus, spreading oleaster
Category: Trees
Sub-category: Elaeagnus

A deciduous shrub or small tree that is native to eastern Asia. Growing 3.5 m tall, with a dense, thorny crown. The leaves are alternate, 4 to 10 cm long and 2 to 4 cm wide, entire but with a wavy margin. The leaves are silvery when they leaf out early in spring due to numerous tiny scales, but turn greener above as the scales wear off through the summer. The flowers are clustered 1 to 7 together in the leaf axils, fragrant, with a four-lobed pale yellowish-white 1 cm long corolla. The fruit is a round drupe 1/4 to 1/3 inches long, silvery-scaled yellow, ripening to red dotted with silver or brown.

It is considered an invasive species in some areas. It grows well in disturbed areas, open fields, margins of forests, roadsides, and clearings. Being tolerant of drought, it does not grow well in wet sites. It is intolerant of shade and will not invade areas of dense forest. Because the fruits are eaten by a variety of wildlife, the seeds may be distributed into forest openings or open woodlands.

Edible Notes: When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible, and works well as a dried fruit. It is small but abundantly produced, tart-tasting, and has a chewable seed.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.