Common Names:Goumi, Gumi, Natsugumi, or Cherry silverberry
Elaeagnus multiflora is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 2-8 m tall, with a trunk up to 30 cm diameter with dark brown bark. The shoots are densely covered in minute red-brown scales. The leaves are ovate to elliptic, 3-10 cm long and 2-5 cm broad, green above, and silvery to orange-brown below with dense small scales.
The flowers are solitary or in pairs in the leaf axils, fragrant, with a four-lobed pale yellowish-white corolla 1.5 cm long; flowering is in mid-spring.
Japanese Elaeagnus multiflora var.hortensis, with cigarette for scale, photo on June 2008The fruit is round to oval drupe 1 cm long, silvery-scaled orange, ripening red dotted with silver or brown, pendulous on a 2-3 cm peduncle. When ripe in mid- to late summer, the fruit is juicy and edible, with an acidic taste.
As with other species in the genus Elaeagnus, E. multiflora plants are actinorhizal, growing in symbiosis with the actinobacterium Frankia in the soil. These bacteria fix atmospheric nitrogen, making it available in usable form for the host plant, and indirectly for other nearby plants. This feature allows the plant to grow in poorer soils than it could otherwise.
Propagation: Difficult to propagate. Seeds may take two or more years to germinate, and the seedlings may not be identical to their parent. Propagation by cuttings takes skill and patience but will produce plants identical to their parents. Gumi is fast growing and, with the help of symbiotic root inhabiting bacteria (like legumes), it obtains its own nitrogen, thus requiring little fertilizer. Gumi is drought tolerant, can live in salty or alkaline soils, and rarely has insect or disease problems.
The red ripe fruits of gumi are juicy and sweet, but at the same time, pleasantly astringent. They pucker your mouth, but you keep coming back for more! An absolutely scrumptious jelly can be made from the juice.
Click & see the pictures of Fruits of elaeagnus multiflora in mid-June
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. The leaves are used in the treatment of coughs. The fruit is prescribed in the treatment of watery diarrhea. The root is astringent, a decoction is used to treat itch and foul sores.
Chinese people have traditionally considered Elaeagnus multiflora to be among a group of “nutraceuticals”, or foods that are edible and have medicinal values.They are said to decrease cholesterol and have other benefits, but scientific evidence has yet to confirm this belief
Unfortunately, gumi is largely unknown to Americans. In the edible landscape, fast growing gumi shrubs can be pruned to form a dense hedge. As individual specimens or in small groups, gumi’s silvery leaves sparkle and flash in the breeze. The succulent fruits are extremely showy and attract many kinds of birds. Gumi could (and should) be cultivated on a commercial scale, like blueberries or mayhaws.
A gumi bush loaded with ripening fruit has been known to foster quarrelsome and prolonged disputes among mockingbirds, kingbirds, cardinals, blue jays and orioles. The only effective arbiter is bird-proof netting.
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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