Botanical Name: Elaeagnus orientalis
Synonyms : Elaeagnus angustifolia orientalis.
Common Name: Trebizond Date
Habitat: Elaeagnus orientalis is native to W. Asia. It grows by streams and on river banks, to elevations of 3000 metres in Turkey.
Elaeagnus orientalis is a deciduous Shrub growing to 12 m (39ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate. The leaves are Like other plane trees, its leaves are borne alternately on the stem, deeply lobed, and palmate or maple -like. It usually has flaking bark, occasionally not flaking and becoming thick and rugged. Flowers and fruit are round and burr-like, borne in clusters of between 2 and 6 on a stem. The oval fruit is about 10mm long and contains a single large seed.
It is in flower in June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Succeeds in most soils that are well-drained. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in very poor soils and in dry soils. Established plants are very drought resistant. Prefers a light sandy loam and a sunny position. Dislikes shallow chalk soils. Very closely related to E. angustifolia and often considered to be no more than a sub-species of it, it does not flower so freely in Britain as that species. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus. 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 flowers are very fragrant and are rich in nectar, they are much visited by bees. Occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties. The fruit used to be commonly sold in the markets of Iran and Turkey but is rarely found there nowadays.
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. 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. Sweet and mealy but of better quality than the closely related E. angustifolia. Eaten fresh or made into sherbet and preserves. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent. Seeds are also edible, eaten – 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. In folkoric medicine, the fruit and flower have been used as a tonic and antipyretic agent. 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.
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.
Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
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.