Botanical Name: Elaeagnus latifolia
Species: E. latifolia
Common Names: Bastard oleaster,or Soh-sang
Habitat: Elaeagnus latifolia is native to E. Asia – India. It grows on Swamps, to elevations of 1500 metres in the Himalayas. Forest openings at elevations of 1500 – 2600 metres in Nepal.
Elaeagnus latifolia is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to ten feet tall. It has alternate pinnately compound leaves. The plant gives off a bright red and speckled berry around the size of a grape or ~0.75 cm in diameter. The ripe fruit is pulpy with a sweet and slightly sour taste.The fruit has seed which is also edible.
The cultivation of Elaeagnus latifolia is mostly done in well drained soils. E. latifolia prefers soil that is moderately fertile which causes it to succeed in poor soils and dry soils.E. latifolia requires to grow in a position where there is plenty of sunlight. Outside of the native regions, E. latifolia is also cultivated in United Kingdom, however it is unlikely to succeed outdoors in the milder areas of the country. E. latifolia is known to be resistant to honey fungus, and it can also grow with orchards which increases yield from the fruit trees.
Through seeds – 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. (This information on stratification is probably not appropriate to this species since it does not experience much frost in its native habitat). 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. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 10 – 12cm with a heel, October/November in a frame. The cuttings are rather slow and difficult to root, leave them for 12 months. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months.
Fruits are edible, eaten – raw or cooked. Acid and somewhat astringent, it is mainly used in preserves, pies etc. Another report describes it as acid and pleasantly refreshing. 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 a single large seed. Seeds are also edible, eaten – raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous.
The flowers are astringent and cardiac. The fruit is astringent. 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 cancer.
Local physician’s uses it for curing tumours, cancer, and viral diseases (Matthews, 1994 ). In folkoric medicine, the fruit and flower have been used as a tonic and antipyretic agent.
The leaves and the stems are concocted and used in the treatment of asthma, cough, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids; the root is astringent and is applied to sores or itchy skin.
E. latifolia can thrive in both moist and dry conditions, it can tolerate the most intense droughts. E. latifolia shares a symbiotic relationship with soil-dwelling bacteria that perform nitrogen fixation.
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.