Elaeagnus angustifolia | ‘Oleaster’, ‘Russian Olive’, ‘Silver Berry’ | 25 seeds
Elaeagnus angustifolia is a fast-growing, thorny tree or shrub species of the family Elaeagnaceae. Originally native to Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey, angustifolia has now spread to large parts of North America too. It’s also found some popularity in Europe as an ornamental plant.
Informally known by names such as ‘Oleaster’, ‘Persian Olive’, ‘Russian Olive’, ‘Silver Berry’, ‘Silver Russian Olive’ and ‘Wild Olive’ (it’s not related to the Olive, Olea europaea, merely thought to be similar in appearance), angustifolia can be propagated by seed or cutting and grows to roughly nine metres tall. The plant’s trunk bark is dark brown to black in colour, while its yellow-green foliage is coated with a sheen of rusty to silvery scales, its smooth leaves approximately nine centimetres long by two and a half centimetres across. Wonderfully fragrant, semi-clustered yellow flowers appear around early to mid-summer, up to one centimetre in length and followed by more clusters – this time of small, orange-red edible fruit up to roughly two centimetres in diameter.
The ‘Russian Olive’ is sometimes considered an invasive species, due to its ability to thrive even where soil quality is poor. It’s particularly well-adapted to riparian habitats, but is also happy to colonise road sides and wasteland. Moreover, the plant’s pollen is a common cause of allergies. However, (on the plus side!) it’s useful as a nitrogen-fixing plant, plus is used traditionally by herbalists in countries including Iran.
Fairly easy to grow from seed or cuttings in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8, plant Elaeagnus angustifolia in full sun in a well-drained, acidic to strongly alkaline soil. Space young plants at least five or six metres apart to allow them enough room to properly develop and water once the soil is dry. All requirements met, flowers and fruits generally start to appear from the third or fourth year, climate dependent.
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced