James H. Miller, USDA FS

Autumn Olive

Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.
Oleaster Family (Elaeagnaceae)

Origin: East Asia

Autumn olive was introduced into the United States in 1830 and widely planted as an ornamental, for wildlife habitat, as windbreaks and to restore deforested and degraded lands.

Distribution and Habitat
Autumn olive is found from Maine to Virginia and west to Wisconsin in grasslands, fields, open woodlands and other disturbed areas. It is drought tolerant and thrives in a variety of soil and moisture conditions. Because autumn olive is capable of fixing nitrogen in its roots, it can grow on bare mineral substrates.

Ecological Threat
It threatens native ecosystems by out-competing and displacing native plant species, creating dense shade and interfering with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling.

Description and Biology

Bill Johnson

James R. Allison, GA DNR

Prevention and Control
Do not plant autumn olive. Individual young plants can be hand-pulled, ensuring that roots are removed. Cutting, in combination with herbicide application, is effective. Hedges can be cut down using a brush type mower, chain saw, or similar tool, and stumps treated with a systemic herbicide like glyphosate or triclopyr (see Control Options). Herbivorous animals are not known to feed on it and few insects seem to utilize or bother it. Canker disease is occasionally a problem.

Native Alternatives
Many native shrubs are available as alternatives (see Native Alternatives).


Return to the Table of Contents | Download a PDF of Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas

Comments, suggestions, and questions about the website should be directed to the webmaster.
Last updated:11-Nov-2010