Common Name Russian olive
Form Shrub/ tree
Moisture dry to mesic
Elaeagnus angustifolia, commonly called silver berry, oleaster, Russian olive, or wild olive, is a species of Elaeagnus, native to western and central Asia, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to Turkey and Iran. It is now also widely established in North America as an introduced species.
Fruit can be eaten raw or cooked as a seasoning in soups. They are dry, sweet and mealy. The fruit can also be made into jellies or sherbets. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. The oval fruit is about 10mm long and contains a single large seed. Seed can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous.
The oil from the seeds is used with syrup as an electuary in the treatment of catarrh and bronchial affections. The juice of the flowers has been used in the treatment of malignant fevers. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.
Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. It is fairly fast-growing and very tolerant of pruning, but is rather open in habit and does not form a dense screen. Because the plant fixes atmospheric nitrogen, it makes a hedge that enriches the soil rather than depriving it of nutrients. An essential oil obtained from the flowers is used in perfumery. A gum from the plant is used in the textile industry in calico printing. Wood is hard, fine-grained. Used for posts, beams, domestic items, it is also much used for carving. The wood is an excellent fuel.