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   Elaeagnus angustifolia (tree, shrub)     
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      Fruit (Photo: Patrick Breen, Oregon State University, - Click for full size   Buds and leaf scars (Photo: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, - Click for full size   Fruit (Photo: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, - Click for full size   Flowers (Photo: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, - Click for full size   Foliage and flowers (Photo: Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service, - Click for full size   Infestation (Photo: J. Scott Peterson, USDA, NRCS, - Click for full size   Infestation (Photo: J.S. Peterson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database) - Click for full size
    Taxonomic name: Elaeagnus angustifolia L.
    Synonyms: Elaeagnus angustifolia var. orientalis (L.) Kuntze, Elaeagnus hortensis M. Bieb, Elaeagnus moorcroftii Wall. ex Schltdl., Elaeagnus orientalis L.
    Common names: árbol del paraíso (Spanish), árvore-do-paraíso (Portuguese), chalef (French), oleaster (English), olivier de Bohême (French), olivo de Bohemia (Spanish), panjino (Spanish), Russian-olive (English), trebizond-date (English)
    Organism type: tree, shrub
    Native to southern Europe and western Asia, Elaeagnus angustifolia is commonly found growing along floodplains, riverbanks, stream courses, marshes, and irrigation ditches Seedlings are tolerant of shade and the plant thrives in a variety of soil and moisture conditions, including bare mineral substrates.E. angustifolia can withstand competition from other shrubs and trees and can spread vegetatively by sprouting from the root crown and sending up root suckers. The fruits float and are probably dispersed via water transport. Also, the seeds ingested with the fruit by birds and small mammals are dispersed in their droppings.
    Muzika and Swearingen (1997) state that E. angustifolia is a small, usually thorny shrub or small tree that can grow to 9.1m in height. Its stems, buds, and leaves have a dense covering of silvery to rusty scales. Leaves are egg or lance-shaped, smooth margined, and alternate along the stem. Highly aromatic, the initial creamy yellow flowers are later replaced by clusters of abundant silvery fruits. Tesky (1992) states that the twigs are flexible, coated with a gray, scaly pubescence and often have a short thorn at the end The bark is thin with shallow fissures and exfoliates into long strips. It has a deep taproot and well-developed lateral root system.
    Similar Species
    Elaeagnus pungens, Elaeagnus umbellata

    Occurs in:
    agricultural areas, riparian zones, water courses, wetlands
    Habitat description
    Tesky (1992) reports that E. angustifolia it is tolerant of considerable amounts of salinity and alkalinity. However, it prefers sites with low to moderate concentrations (100-3,500 ppm) of soluble salts. The lower pH limit is 6. It thrives under a wide range of soil textures from sand to heavy clay, and can withstand flooding and silting. It grows best in deep sandy or loamy soils with only slight salt and alkali content. Dense, healthy stands are present in river bottoms where the water table is seldom more than 2 feet (0.6 m) below the surface. In contrast, it survives considerable drought. It can withstand temperatures ranging from -45 deg C to 46 deg C. It occurs from sea level to at least 2,438 m. It is somewhat shade tolerant and can withstand competition from other shrubs and trees. In the United States naturalization is rapidly increasing, especially in riparian zones. It is commonly found growing along floodplains, riverbanks, stream courses, marshes, and irrigation ditches in the western areas of the United States.
    General impacts
    Muzika and Swearingen (1997) cite that E. angustifolia can outcompete native vegetation, interfere with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling, and tax water reserves. It is capable of fixing nitrogen in its roots, so it can grow on bare, mineral substrates and dominate riparian vegetation where overstory cottonwoods have died. Although it provides a plentiful source of edible fruits for birds, ecologists have found that bird species richness is actually higher in riparian areas dominated by native vegetation. Tesky (1992) states that it can interfere with agricultural practices and it rapidly colonizes lowland fields, often chokes irrigation ditches, and damages tyres and equipment.
    Tesky (1992) states that E. angustifolia is often planted as an ornamental because of its silvery leaves and decorative fruit. It also has some value as a honey plant. It has been widely planted in shelterbelts throughout the prairie states. It has also been used for wildlife habitat plantings, erosion control and highway beautification. With its ability to increase available nitrogen in the soil, it is sometimes interplanted with other tree crops to increase their growth and yield. The dates are full of amino acids and are sold as dried fruit. It is grown for firewood in China in a coppicing system. (Wilcox, 2003).
    Geographical range
    Native range: Tesky (1992) reports that E. angustifolia is a native of southern Europe and western Asia. By the turn of the 20th century it had escaped cultivation and is now extensively naturalized in the United States in 17 western states bordered on the east by the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and extending west to the Pacific coast. It grows in some eastern states but is not naturalized. It also occurs in Mexico and in southern Canada from Ontario to British Columbia.
    Introduction pathways to new locations
    For ornamental purposes: Muzika and Swearingen (1997) state that E. angustifolia was first cultivated in Germany, and was introduced into the U.S. in the late 1800s. It was planted as an ornamental, and subsequently escaped into the wild.
    Landscape/fauna "improvement": Borrell (1976) indicates that planting of E. angustifolia has been promoted to benefit wildlife as cover and food source
    Other: Russian olive is sold by the State of Montana for wildlife plantings.

    Local dispersal methods
    Consumption/excretion: Tesky (1992) states that the seeds ingested with the fruit by birds and small mammals are dispersed in their droppings.
    Natural dispersal (local): SWEPIC (2002) reports that E. angustifolia readily propagates from vegetative structures. Stump sprouting commonly occurs after cutting down the tree, and excavation of the entire stump can trigger root sprouting.
    Water currents: SWEPIC (2002) states that the fruits float and are very probably dispersed via water transport.
    Management information
    Physical: Tesky (1992) states that once established, E. angustifolia is difficult to control and nearly impossible to eradicate. Efforts to control unwanted concentrations have included mowing seedlings, cutting, burning, spraying, girdling, and bulldozing. Most efforts have realized limited success. Stump sprouting commonly occurs after cutting down the tree, and excavation of the entire stump can trigger root sprouting (SWEPIC, 2002). Burning is practical when conditions support a hot fire. Saplings are most sensitive. The fire must be hot enough and burn long enough to incinerate the stumps of larger trees. Spring and winter burns are usually less effective than summer or early fall burns.

    Biological: Tubercularia canker overwinters on infected stems and spreads via rain-splash, animals, or pruning implements to open wounds in the bark. Infected tissue becomes discoloured or sunken. Entire stems may be girdled and killed, and the disease can deform or kill stressed plants over time (Herman et al. 1996, Jackson et al. 2000, in SWEPIC, 2002). Cankers sometimes exude gum at the margins. Phomposis canker kills seedlings and saplings, causing dieback and cankers on larger plants (Sinclair et al. 1987, in SWEPIC, 2002). Lasiodiplodia theobromae (syn. Botrydiplodia theobromae, Diplodia natalensis) is the pycnidial state of Botryosphaeria rhodina, a pathogen that causes cankers and dieback in many woody and herbaceous species. It often attacks plants weakened by environmental stress or other pathogens and has caused death of E. angustifolia in windbreaks and shelterbelts in the Great Plains of the United States. This fungus often strips the dead bark up to several metres long, sometimes with small dead branches along the killed strip.

    Integrated management: Apparently the most effective combination of control efforts has been cutting trees, followed by either spraying or burning the stumps (Tesky, 1992). SWEPIC (2002) reports that E. angustifolia is sensitive to 2,4-D ester, triclopyr, 2,4-D + triclopyr, imazapyr, and glyphosate. However, effective control with these compounds almost always requires follow-up treatments for 1 to 2 years. 2,4-D ester is applied to the foliage. It requires good coverage for acceptable results. 2,4-D + Triclopyr is applied either as a foliar spray or a directed spray to the basal bark of the tree. Triclopyr is applied as a directed spray to the basal bark of the tree. Basal applications require good saturation of the bark and diesel fuel is frequently used as the carrier. Imazapyr [Arsenaltm, Containtm] is applied undiluted to frill cuts made in the stem. Glyphosate is also applied to frill cuts. Glyphosate has provided very good control using a glyphosate “Hack and Squirt” treatment that is applied during the winter months. Trees are “hacked” with a hatchet that injects glyphosate into the wound.

    Muzika and Swearingen (1997) state that establishment and reproduction of E. angustifolia is primarily by seed, although some vegetative propagation also occurs. At three years of age, plants begin to flower and fruit. Tesky (1992) states that it sprouts from the root crown and sends up root suckers. It can grow up to 1.8m per year and the average seed-bearing age of this species is 3 to 5 years. Each fruit has a single seed at the centre.
    Lifecycle stages
    Tesky (1992) states that the seeds can remain viable for up to 3 years and are capable of germinating over a broad range of soil types. Germination is enhanced by stratification in moist sand for 90 days at 5 deg C. Spring moisture and slightly alkaline soil tend to favour seedling growth.
    Reviewed by: Scott H. Stoleson, Research Wildlife Biologist USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. USA
    Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
    Last Modified: Friday, 8 July 2005

ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland