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Botanical Name : Elaeagnus multiflora ovata
Species: E. multiflora
Synonyms : Elaeagnus longipes
Common Names : Goumi, Gumi, Natsugumi, or Cherry silverberry
Habitat : Elaeagnus multiflora ovata is native to E. Asia – China and Japan. It grows on the thickets and thin woods in hills and on lowland, at elevations of 600 – 1800 metres.
Elaeagnus multiflora ovata is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 2-8 m tall, with a trunk up to 30 cm diameter with dark brown bark.
The shoots are densely covered in minute red-brown scales. The leaves are ovate to elliptic, 3-10 cm long and 2-5 cm broad, green above, and silvery to orange-brown below with dense small scales.The flowers are solitary or in pairs in the leaf axils, fragrant, with a four-lobed pale yellowish-white corolla 1.5 cm long; flowering is in mid-spring and the seeds ripen in July.
The fruit is round to oval drupe 1 cm long, silvery-scaled orange, ripening red dotted with silver or brown, pendulous on a 2-3 cm peduncle. When ripe in mid- to late summer, the fruit is juicy and edible, with a sweet but astringent taste somewhat similar to that of rhubarb. The skin of the fruit is thin and fragile, making it difficult to transport, thus reducing its viability as a food crop.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils that are well-drained. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils. Prefers a light sandy loam and a sunny position but succeeds in light shade. Very drought and wind resistant. Tolerates atmospheric pollution. Plants are hardy to about -20°c, but the roots are hardy to -30°c (although top growth will be killed at this temperature). Cultivated for its edible fruit in Japan, there are some named varieties. Plants can crop in 4 years from cuttings. They bear heavily in Britain. The fruit is well hidden in the shrub and is quite difficult to harvest without damaging the plant. This sub-species produces brown fruits on long stalks, would this be any easier to harvest? This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. Birds love the fruits. There is some confusion over the correct name for this species. In the on-line version of the Flora of Japan it is referred to as Elaeagnus montana ovata. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%. The small flowers are deliciously scented, their aroma pervading the garden on calm days.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It should germinate in late winter or early spring, though it may take 18 months[K]. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking more than 18 months. A warm stratification for 4 weeks followed by 12 weeks cold stratification can help. The seed usually (eventually) germinates quite well. Prick out the seedlings into individual pot as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out when they are at least 15cm tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 10 – 12cm with a heel, November in a frame. Leave for 12 months. Fair to good percentage. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months.
Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.
Fruit – raw or cooked. Pleasantly acid when ripe, they are usually made into pies, preserves etc. Quite fiddly and difficult to pick without breaking the young shoots, this sub-species carries the fruit on longer stalks than the species and might therefore be easier to pick. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. The fruit is about 10mm long and contains a single large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous.
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.
Other Uses: ……Hedge; Rootstock..….Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. A hedge in a very exposed position at Rosewarne in N. Cornwall was 3.5 metres tall in 1989[K]. Often used as a rootstock for evergreen species that are hard to grow from cuttings. It frequently sprouts from the base and can out-compete the scion.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.