Europe and Western Asia
is a small, usually thorny shrub or small tree that can grow to 30 feet
in height. Its stems, buds, and leaves have a dense covering of silvery
to rusty scales. Leaves are egg or lance-shaped, smooth margined, and alternate
along the stem. At three years of age, plants begin to flower and fruit.
Highly aromatic, creamy yellow flowers appear in June and July and are
later replaced by clusters of abundant silvery fruits.
Russian-olive can outcompete native vegetation, interfere
with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling, and tax water reserves.
Because Russian-olive is capable of fixing nitrogen in its roots, it
can grow on bare, mineral substrates and dominate riparian vegetation
where overstory cottonwoods have died. Although Russian-olive provides
a plentiful source of edible fruits for birds, ecologists have found
that bird species richness is actually higher in riparian areas dominated
by native vegetation.
IN THE UNITED STATES
Russian-olive is found primarily in the central
and western U.S., as well as in the East (e.g., Virginia to Pennsylvania),
where it occurs with its exotic partner, autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata).
In the West, Russian-olive occurs mainly in the Great Basin Desert region
at 800-2000 feet elevation and is also abundant in riparian zones of
the Great Plains, for example, the Platte River in Nebraska.
HABITAT IN THE UNITED
Russian-olive is found along streams, fields and open areas.
Seedlings are tolerant of shade and it thrives in a variety of soil and
moisture conditions, including bare mineral substrates.
cultivated in Germany in 1736, Russian-olive was introduced into the U.S.
in the late 1800s, and was planted as an ornamental, and subsequently escaped
into the wild. Until recently, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service recommended
Russian-olive for wildlife planting and windbreaks.
BIOLOGY & SPREAD
and reproduction of Russian-olive is by primarily by seed, although some
vegetative propagation also occurs. The fruit of Russian-olive is a small
cherry-like drupe that is readily eaten and disseminated by many species
hedges with a brush type mower, followed by removal of cut material may
be the most effective method for eradication. Herbivorous animals are not
known to feed on it and few insects seem to utilize or bother it. Canker
disease is occasionally a problem but not enough to be useful as a control
USE PESTICIDES WISELY: ALWAYS READ THE ENTIRE PESTICIDE LABEL CAREFULLY, FOLLOW ALL MIXING AND APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR ALL RECOMMENDED PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR AND CLOTHING. CONTACT YOUR STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL PESTICIDE USE REQUIREMENTS, RESTRICTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS.
NOTICE: MENTION OF PESTICIDE PRODUCTS ON THIS WEB SITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT OF ANY MATERIAL.
For more information
on the management of Russian-olive, please contact:
- Keith Duncan, New Mexico State University; erbc at nmsu.edu
- Jeff Lovich, USGS, Biological Research Division; jeffrey_lovich at usgs.gov
- Jack DeLoach, USDA Agricultural Research Service; a021ctemple at attmail.com
- Tom Egan, USDI, Bureau of Land Management; Tom_Egan at ca.blm.gov
- U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Flagstaff, AZ, http://www.nbs.na.edu
- Virginia Natural Heritage Program - Russian-olive and Autumn-olive http://www.state.va.us/~der/dnh/inveleag.htm
When restoring areas previously infested with Russian-olive, use
shrub and tree species native to the particular region and ecosystem. Native
plants provide the choicest shelter and food for wildlife. Contact a native plant
society in your state or the California Exotic Pest Plant Council for suggestions
on western native shrubs. A few examples of shrubs native to much of the eastern
U.S. include spicebush (Lindera benzoin),
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), flowering
dogwood (Cornus florida), Bursting-heart or strawberry-bush
(Euonymus americanus) and arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum).
Rose-Marie Muzika, U.S. Forest
Service, Morgantown, WV
Jil M. Swearingen,
National Park Service, Washington, DC
John M. Randall, The Nature
Conservancy, Davis, CA
Knopf, F.L., and T.E.
Olson. 1984. Naturalization of Russian-olive: implications for Rocky Mountain
wildlife. Wildlife Society Bulletin 12:289-298.
Shafroth, P.R., G.T. Aubla,
and M.L. Scott. 1995. Germination and establishment of the native plains
cottonwood (Populus deltoides Marshall subsp. moniifera) and the
exotic Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.). Conservation Biology
Swearingen, J. 2009. WeedUS Database of Plants Invading Natural Areas in the United States: Russian-Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia). http://www.invasive.org/weedus/subject.html?sub=3022.
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group.