Autumn Olive – Elaeagnus umbellate

This perennial deciduous shrub is an import from China and Japan, introduced  into the United States in 1830 as an ornamental. It has escaped cultivation and become listed as invasive from Maine south to South Carolina west to Oklahoma, and north to southwest Minnesota. Birds find the multitude of red berries very enticing and spread the seed through their excrement. 


The fruit is a drupe approximately 1 cm long ripening to bright red dotted with silver or brown. When ripe the fruit is juicy and edible. The drupe is pleasantly acid, and can be consumed raw or in jams, jellies, leathers, and wine. If slightly under ripe it is very astringent. Waiting until the first good freeze will sweeten these berries.


Used in medicine it has been shown to have higher levels of lycopene than tomatoes. Lycopene has been shown to be useful in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. The flowers are astringent; the seeds are used as a stimulant. Together they are used in the treatment of coughs.

Autumn Olive

Autumn Olive



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark Horn on November 3, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Autumn olive is also listed as a “restricted” species under Wisconsin Department of Natural Resoursces administrative rule NR 40. That law makes it illegal to sell, plant or transport Autumn olive within the state. Furthermore, the rule advises property owners to remove the invasive plants from their property.


  2. Thanks Mark…here is Delaware, it is an invasive species, and we are encouraged to remove it from out property, also. We have 3 seperate bushes growing on this small 1 acre! But the berries make good jelly…


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