Elaeagnus angustifolia L.

Russian-olive

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Russian-olive is native to southern Europe and western Asia, but has been planted extensively throughout the U.S. as a windbreak, ornamental shrub, soil stabilizer, and wildlife attractant. As such, it has spread aggressively and is regarded as an invasive species throughout much of the western U.S. It can occupy a large number of habitats, but prefers moist soils. The species can fix nitrogen, so is an early colonizer in disturbed places. Its narrow, silvery leaves, fragrant yellow flowers, and lustrous brown bark are unmistakeable.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forest edges, meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Growth form
  • the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
  • the plant is a tree
Leaf type
the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaves per node
there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
Leaf duration
the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
armature on plant
the plant has spines, prickles, or thorns
Leaf blade length
25–100 mm
Leaf blade width
4–40 mm
Leaf stalk
the leaves have leaf stalks
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Bark texture
  • the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
  • the bark of an adult plant peels off easily or hangs off
Twig winter color
  • brown
  • gray
  • purple
  • red
Bud scale number
there are two scales on the winter bud, and their edges meet
Show All Characteristics
  • Buds or leaf scars
    Bud scale number
    there are two scales on the winter bud, and their edges meet
    Bud scar shape (Fraxinus)
    NA
    Collateral buds
    there are no collateral buds on the sides of the branches
    Leaf scar arrangement
    there is one leaf scar per node on the stem or twig
    Superposed buds
    there are no superposed buds on the branch
    Winter bud scales
    the winter bud is perulate (partially or completely covered with one or more scales)
    Winter bud shape
    the winter buds are ovoid (egg-shaped)
    Winter bud stalks
    the winter buds have no stalks
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint
    Enlarged sterile flowers
    there are no enlarged sterile flowers on the plant
    Flower appearance
    the flowers appear at the same time as the leaves
    Flower petal color
    NA
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Hairs on ovary (Amelanchier)
    NA
    Hypanthium present
    the flower has a hypanthium
    Inflorescence position
    the inflorescences grow on the twigs
    Inflorescence type
    • the flowers grow out of the axil (point where a branch or leaf is attached to the main stem)
    • the inflorescence has only one flower on it
    • the inflorescence is a fascicle (compact cluster of flowers)
    Number of pistils
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes only one cycle of petals or sepals
    Petal appearance
    • NA
    • the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal fusion
    • NA
    • the perianth parts are fused to form a tube, cup, or bell shape
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal cilia (Ilex)
    NA
    Sepal tip glands
    there are no glands at the tips of the sepal lobes
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen number
    4
    Stamen position relative to petals
    the stamens are lined up with the sepals (antesepalous)
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not fused to one another
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    • NA
    • some other color
    • yellow
    Fruit tissue origin
    the hypanthium of the flower becomes part of the fruit
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    • the fruit is a drupe (fleshy, with a firm inner ovary wall that encloses a single seed)
    • the fruit is an achene (dry, usually 1-seeded, does not separate or split open at maturity)
    Nut with spines (Fagaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    there are no wings on the fruit
  • Glands or sap
    Sap color
    the sap is clear and watery
    Stalked glands on fruit (Rosa)
    NA
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    • the plant is a shrub (i.e., a woody plant with several stems growing from the base)
    • the plant is a tree
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf has hairs on it
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    there is a noticeable powdery or waxy bloom on the underside of the leaf
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    Leaf blade edges (Acer)
    NA
    Leaf blade flatness
    • the edges of the leaf are curled up
    • the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    • at least some of the hairs on the leaf blade are branched
    • the hairs on the leaf blade are different from the choices given
    Leaf blade length
    25–100 mm
    Leaf blade scales
    there are scales on the leaf blades
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    Leaf blade texture
    • the leaf blade is chartaceous (thin and dry like paper)
    • the leaf blade is membranaceous (thin, flexible, almost translucent)
    Leaf blade translucent dots
    there are no translucent dots on the leaf blade
    Leaf blade vein pattern
    the main veins of the leaf blade are pinnate (the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the main central vein) and non-arcuate (not arched towards the leaf tip)
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base toward the tip
    Leaf blade width
    4–40 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they wither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the plant is broad-leaved (with broadly flattened leaf blades)
    Leaf lobe tips (Quercus)
    NA
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk nectaries
    there are no nectaries on the leaf stalk
    Leaf stalk shape
    the leaf stalk is not flattened
    Leaf teeth
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf teeth hairs (Carya)
    NA
    Leaf type
    the leaf blade is simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant, or they fall off as the leaf expands
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant has a pleasantly aromatic odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Aerial roots
    the plant has no aerial roots
    Bark texture
    • the bark of an adult plant is ridged or plated
    • the bark of an adult plant peels off easily or hangs off
    Branch brittleness (willows only)
    NA
    Branch cross-section
    the branch is circular in cross-section, or it has five or more sides, so that there are no sharp angles
    First-year cane (Rubus)
    NA
    Lenticels on twigs
    there are clearly lenticels on the twigs
    Pith shape
    the outline of the pith in a twig is roughly round
    Short shoots
    there are peg- or knob-like shoots present
    Twig bloom
    there is no bloom on the twig
    Twig hairs
    the twigs have hairs, but the hairs do not have glands
    Twig papillae (Vaccinium species only)
    NA
    Twig scales
    there are scales on the twig surface
    Twig winter color
    • brown
    • gray
    • purple
    • red
    Wings on branch
    the branch does not have wings on it
    armature on plant
    the plant has spines, prickles, or thorns

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Elaeagnus umbellata:
leaf blades elliptic to ovate-oblong, up to 3 times as long as wide, calyx lobes about 1/2 as long as the basal connate portion, and fruit red with silver scales (vs. E. angustifolia, with leaf blades oblong-lanceolate to narrow-lanceolate, 3-8 times as long as wide, calyx lobes about as long as the basal connate portion, and fruit yellow or silver).

Family

Elaeagnaceae

Genus

Elaeagnus

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Elaeagnus angustifolia L. E

Russian-olive. CT, MA, RI, VT. Roadsides, fields, forest edges, waste areas. More work is needed to refine the range of this species in New England. Many specimens identified as Elaeagnus angustifolia in regional herbaria are in fact E. umbellata.