INVASIVE PLANTS OF OHIO
Fact Sheet 7 - Factsheet in .pdf format
Autumn-Olive and Russian-Olive
Elaeagnus umbellata, E. angustfolia
Autumn-olive and Russian-olive are non-native, deciduous shrubs or small trees that grow to 20 feet tall. The leaves on autumn-olive are small, oval, untoothed and dark green. It has small, light-yellow fragrant flowers in May-June and small round juicy fruits that are reddish to pink in color and dotted with silver or brown scales. Russian-olive's leaves are narrower and longer, and dull green. It has yellow flowers and dry yellow mealy fruits. Silver scales occur on the underside of the leaves of both species. The twigs of Russian-olive are typically covered with thorns. These shrubs begin to flower and fruit annually after 3 years. An individual plant can produce 8 pounds of fruit each year.
Autumn-olive and Russian-olive have nitrogen-fixing root nodules which allows them to adapt to many poor soil types. They are found in areas such as pastures and fields, grasslands and sparse woodlands.
Autumn-olive is native to China and Japan. It was introduced to the United States in 1830 and is distributed throughout the state. Russian-olive is originally from Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America in the early 1900s and is found throughout Ohio. Historically these plants have been used for erosion control, strip mine reclamation, wildlife habitat, and in landscaping.
Autumn-olive and Russian-olive aggressively out-compete native plants and shrubs. They grow rapidly and re-sprout heavily after cutting or burning. Both species are prolific fruit producers, with seed dispersal mostly accomplished by birds.
Hand-pulling seedlings and sprouts is effective in the early spring when the ground is moist and the entire plant and root system can be removed. Other forms of control, such as mowing and burning, without the application of a herbicide usually contribute to a larger number of root sprouts.
Systemic herbicides, such as Roundup®, Glypro®, Garlon 3A®, and Garlon 4® can be used effectively when applied to cut stumps or when used as a foliar spray. A small amount of Tordon Kit in the mixture will control resprouting. Basal bark application of Garlon 4® with Penevator Basal Oil® can also be an effective form of control.
Currently there are no biological controls for Autumn-olive or Russian-olive.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SOURCES:
Sather, N. and N. Eckardt. 1987. Element Stewardship Abstract for Elaeagnus umbellata, Autumn-olive. The Nature Conservancy.
Szafoni, B. 1990. Vegetation Management Guideline: Autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.) Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation & Virginia Native Plant Society. Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia: Autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata Thunberg) and Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.).