Botanical Name: Elaeagnus parvifolia
Synonyms: Elaeagnus umbellata parvifolia
Common Names: Autumn berry; Autumn elaeagnus; Oleaster; Spreading oleaster Spanish: Fresa de otoño; Fresa japonesa; Fresa plateada.
Habitat: Elaeagnus parvifolia is native to E. Asia – Himalayas. It grows on Shrubberies, 1500 – 3000 metres, from Afghanistan to S.W. China. Forest openings at elevations of 1300 – 3000 metres in Nepal.
Elaeagnus parvifolia is a deciduous Shrub growing to 4.5 m (14ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate.
The alternate leaves and the shoots are usually covered with tiny silvery to brownish scales, giving the plants a whitish to grey-brown colour from a distance. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are small, with a four-lobed calyx and no petals; they are often fragrant. The fruit is a fleshy drupe containing a single seed; it is edible in many species.It ripens from September to November. 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. Prefers a light sandy loam and a sunny position. Dislikes shallow chalk soils. Plants are very drought resistant and very tolerant of maritime exposure. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -40°c. Somewhat similar to E. multiflora, but flowering a few weeks later. The flowers are rich in nectar and very aromatic, they are much visited by bees. 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%.
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. 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 month
Fruit – raw, cooked or added to curries. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent – though children seem to love it at the slightly unripe stage. 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.
The unripe fruit is astringent and is eaten in the treatment of bloody dysentery. 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.
Fruits has been used against flatulence, amoebic dysentery, nausea, and vomiting. Flowers have been reported to have astringent properties.
Very tolerant of maritime exposure, it can be grown as an informal hedge in exposed positions.
It can fix Nitrogen.
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