Botanical Name: Elaeagnus macrophylla
Species: E. macrophylla
Common Name : Broad-leaved oleaster
Habitat: Elaeagnus macrophylla is native to E. Asia – Japan, Korea. It grows in the thickets in lowland, especially near the sea.
Elaeagnus macrophylla is a large, bushy, rounded shrub that typically grows to 8-10′ tall and as wide. Branchlets lack spines. Leaves are evergreen in warm winter climates, but semi-evergreen to deciduous near the northern edge of its growing range. When young, its leathery, elliptic, leaves (to 4″ long) are green with silver scales. With age, leaf surfaces turn lustrous dark green above but remain silver gray beneath. Apetalous creamy white flowers (to 1/4″ long) bloom in axillary clusters in late fall. Flowers are not particularly showy, but are intensely fragrant. Small, one-seeded, reddish-brown fruits (drupes to 1/2″ long) typically ripen in spring. The fruit is up to 30mm long and contains a single large seed.
A potentially very valuable crop, ripening as it does in April and May.
Succeeds in most soils that are well-drained. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils. Succeeds in sun or shade. Plants are very tolerant of maritime exposure. This species is hardy to about -15°c, succeeding in the warmer counties of Britain. This is a plant with a very big potential as a commercial fruit crop. The fruit ripens outdoors in Britain in April, a season where traditionally there is no fresh fruit available. The fruit is of a reasonable size, has a very nice flavour when fully ripe and also has a fairly large edible seed. Some research needs to be carried out in order to find the conditions that are necessary to ensure good crops – some plants fruit very heavily whilst others have very light or no crops. This is the second of the evergreen Elaeagnus species to ripen in the spring, about a week or 10 days later than E. cordifolia. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. Plants can succumb to wind-rock in very wet seasons. Plants are sometimes damaged by voles. 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%. Allied to E. pungens and E. glabra. The flowers are very aromatic, their aroma pervading the garden on calm days.
Through sweeds – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It should germinate freely within 4 weeks, 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. It is best to take the cuttings in June. 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.
Fruits are edible, eaten – raw or cooked. A very acceptable rich flavour when fully ripe, though it is somewhat astringent before then. Seeds are also edible, eaten – raw or cooked. A mild flavour, that has a hint of peanut, it can be eaten in quantity. It can be eaten together 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 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.
Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, they are very tolerant of maritime exposure. Reasonably fast-growing and providing a dense cover, it gives a very good protection from the wind. Plants are very tolerant of regular trimming, they can also be cut back almost to the ground and will resprout from the base.
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.