Herbs & Plants

Elaeagnus umbellata

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Botanical Name; Elaeagnus umbellata
Family: Elaeagnaceae
Genus: Elaeagnus
Species: E. umbellata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names :Japanese silverberry, Umbellate oleaster, Autumn-olive, Autumn elaeagnus, or Spreading oleaster

Habitat :Elaeagnus umbellata is  native to eastern Asia from the Himalayas east to Japan. Because airborne nitrogen can be fixed in its roots, it has the capability to grow in infertile habitats.Grows in thickets and thin woods in the lowland and hills

Description :
These plants are deciduous shrubs or small trees growing 3.5 m tall, with a dense, thorny crown. The leaves are alternate, 4–10 cm long and 2–4 cm wide, entire but with a wavy margin. The leaves are silvery when they leaf out early in spring due to numerous tiny scales, but turn greener above as the scales wear off through the summer (unlike the related E. angustifolia, which remains silvery to leaf fall). The flowers are clustered 1-7 together in the leaf axils, fragrant, with a four-lobed pale yellowish-white 1 cm long corolla. The fruit is a round drupe 1/4 to 1/3 inches (0.65 to 0.85 cm) long, silvery-scaled yellow, ripening to red dotted with silver or brown.

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It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.  It is noted for attracting wildlife.It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Succeeds in most soils that are well-drained, though it dislikes shallow chalk soils. It prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in very poor soils and in dry soils. Prefers a light sandy loam and a sunny position. Established plants are very drought resistant. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -40°c. This species is somewhat similar to E. multiflora, but it flowers a few weeks later. Sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties. ‘Cardinal’ and ‘Red Wing’ are very good fruiting forms (developed for ornament and not for fruit quality). ‘Jazbo’ has been bred for its edible fruits which are said to be ripe when ‘they drop into your hand’. This makes them valuable in breeding programmes to develop easily harvested fruits. Flowers are rich in nectar and very aromatic, they are much visited by bees. Polymorphic. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. Plants can fruit in 6 years from seed. 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%.

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. 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[78]. 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. Juicy and pleasantly acid, they are tasty raw and can also be made into jams, preserves etc. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. The fruit contains about 8.3% sugars, 4.5% protein, 1% ash. The vitamin C content is about 12mg per 100g. Mature bushes in the wild yield about 650g of fruit over 2 – 3 pickings. The harvested fruit stores for about 15 days at room temperature. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter and contains a single large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent;  Cancer;  Cardiac;  Pectoral;  Stimulant.

The flowers are astringent, cardiac and stimulant.  The seeds are used as a stimulant in the treatment of coughs. The expressed oil from the seeds is used in the treatment of pulmonary affections.     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
Fuel;  Hedge;  Hedge.

Very tolerant of maritime exposure, it makes a good informal hedge, succeeding even in very exposed positions.  The plants make a reasonable wind-protecting screen, they are about as wide as they are tall. They make a good companion hedge, enriching the soil and fertilizing neighbouring plants. The wood is a good fuel.

Known Hazards : Elaeagnus umbellata has the potential of becoming one of the most troublesome adventive shrubs in the central and eastern United States.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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3 replies on “Elaeagnus umbellata”


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