From The Plant Encyclopedia

Silverberry, Oleaster

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Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany; Elaeagnus angustifolia

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Category Tree, Shrub
Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Angiospermae
Order Rosales
Family Elaeagnaceae
Species in this genus
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Aden Earth Zone

7 - 18


  • Cultivation: Low-Maintenance
  • Light: Sun
  • Soil: Rich
  • pH: 7
  • Moisture: Medium, Dry, Well-Drained


  • Form: Tree, Shrub
  • Habit: Evergreen, Deciduous
  • Flower: Small
  • Fruit/Seed: Medium, Fruit.Nut, Green, Purple, Black, Brown
  • Foliage: Leaves, Green, Silver
  • Uses: Edible, Medicinal, Ornamental


Russian Olive trees have graceful silver-green leaves. Consider this as an excellent tree to grow for window cover - you will likely attract birds to your garden as well!

Elaeagnus known as Silverberry or Oleaster, is a genus of about 50–70 species of flowering plants in the Elaeagnaceae. The vast majority of the species are native to temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, with one species (E. triflora) extending south into northeastern Australia, and another species (E. commutata) restricted to North America. A third species (E. angustifolia) may also be native in southeastern most Europe, though it may be an early human introduction there.

They are Deciduous or Evergreen Shrubs or small Trees with alternate leaves. The leaves and shoots are usually covered with tiny silvery to brownish scales, giving the plants a whitish to grey-brown colour from a distance. The flowers are small, with a four-lobed calyx and no petals; they are often fragrant. The fruit is a fleshy drupe containing a single seed; it is edible in many species. Several species are cultivated for their fruit, including E. angustifolia, E. umbellata and E. multiflora (gumi). Although they are cultivated more in China than elsewhere, they are growing in popularity in the rest of the world.

The thorny shrubs can provide good nesting sites for birds. However, eleagnus has become an invasive species in much of the Southeast U.S., and requires extensive pruning in a home garden. Two of them (Elaeagnus pungens and Elaeagnus umbellata) are currently rated a Category II exotic invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council[1].

E. umbellata is reputed to have a high amount of the carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene[2] and has been shown to display antioxidant properties effective against cancer mechanisms in vitro[3]. E. multiflora is among the nutraceutical plants that Chinese use both for food and medicine[citation needed]. Both berries are small, but tasty and abundant.


Selected species

  • Elaeagnus angustifolia - Oleaster, Russian Silverberry or Russian-olive (western Asia)
  • Elaeagnus commutata - American Silverberry or Wolf-willow (North America)
  • Elaeagnus multiflora - Cherry Silverberry or Gumi(eastern Asia)
  • Elaeagnus umbellata - Japanese Silverberry or Autumn-olive(eastern Asia)
  • Elaeagnus × ebbingei (E. macrophylla × E. pungens)
  • Elaeagnus × pyramidalis (E. commutata × E. multiflora)
  • Elaeagnus × reflexa (E. pugens × E. glabra)


  1. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Lists
  2. Fordham, IM, Clevidence BA, Wiley ER et al. "Fruit of autumnolive; A rich source of lycopene" Hort-Science. Alexandria 36:fckLR1136-1137, 2001
  3. Wang SY, Bowman L, Ding M. Variations in free radical scavenging capacity and antiproliferative activity among different genotypes of autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata). Planta Med. 2007 May;73(5):468-77. [1]