Global Invasive Species Database 100 of the worst Donations home
Standard Search Standard Search Taxonomic Search   Index Search

   Elaeagnus umbellata (tree, shrub)     
Ecology Distribution Management
Info
Impact
Info
References
and Links
Contacts


      Elaeagnus umbellata flower (Photo: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org) - Click for full size   Elaeagnus umbellata fruit (Photo: James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, www.forestryimages.org) - Click for full size   Elaeagnus umbellata shrub (Photo: James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, www.forestryimages.org) - Click for full size   Elaeagnus umbellata twig, with thorns and leaves (Photo: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org) - Click for full size   Elaeagnus umbellata (Photo: James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, www.forestryimages.org) - Click for full size
    Taxonomic name: Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.
    Synonyms: Elaeagnus argyi H.Lev., Elaeagnus crispa Thunb. var. coreana (H.Lev.) Nakai, Elaeagnus crispa Thunb. var. typica Nakai, Elaeagnus parvifolia Royle, Elaeagnus salicifolia D. Don ex Loudon, Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb. subsp. euumbellata Servettaz, Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb. subsp. parvifolia (Royle )Servett., Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb. var. coreana (H.Lev.) H.Lev., Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb. var. parvifolia (Royle) C.K.Schneid., Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb. var. typica C.K. Schneid.
    Common names: aki-gumi (Japanese), autumn elaeagnus (English), autumn-olive (English), silverberry (English)
    Organism type: tree, shrub
    Elaeagnus umbellata is valued as an ornamental because of its silvery foliage and flowers and its hardiness under dry conditions. It invades grasslands and disturbed areas adjacent to the plantings, and encroachment can be rapid because of its high seed production and germination rate. It grows well on a variety of soils, including sandy, loamy, and somewhat clayey textures. It does very well on infertile soils because its roots can fix nitrogen, which has also fostered its use as a nurse plant in walnut orchards. E. umbellata seeds are ingested with fruit and dispersed by birds and mammals. Seeds are also used in some places for wildlife plantings.E. umbellata has the potential of becoming one of the most troublesome adventive shrubs in the central and eastern United States.
    Description
    Kaushal and Parmar (1982) state that E. umbellata is a deciduous, thorny shrub that attains a height of up to 3.5 metres. Thorns are about 2.6cm long, bearing a bunch of flowers and a cluster of leaves; bark is removable in longitudinal strips, exposing the white hardwood underneath. One important distinguishing characteristic of this plant is that its shoots and young branches are clothed with very attractive white, silvery scales that disappear with the commencement of rains. Leaves are lanceolate and alternate, variable in size, and have an average length and breadth of about 2.7 and 1.2cm respectively. They are silvery on the ventral surface and hairy on the dorsal surface in the beginning, then glabrous at maturity. Flowers are always in axillary clusters, bisexual, fragrant, stalked, white to light yellow, 8-9mm in length and 7mm in diameter. The perianth is densely scaled, four-lobed, and nearly companulate. The androecium comprises four very small stamens attached to the mouth of the corolla tube. The gynoecium is simple, has one pistil, and is 7mm long on average. Fruits are ovoid to globose, 3-9mm in length, and 5mm in diameter. The epicarp is thin, covers the whole fruit; the mesocarp is pulpy and juicy. The pedicel is 5 to 6mm long. Freshly picked fruits are coral pink. Seeds are 7-8mm in length, 2 to 3mm in diameter, and saffron yellow in colour.
    Similar Species
    Elaeagnus angustifolia

    More
    Occurs in:
    natural forests, range/grasslands, ruderal/disturbed
    Habitat description
    Elaeagnus umbellata can grow well on a variety of soils, including sandy, loamy, and somewhat clayey textures with a pH range of 4.8-6.5 (Holtz 1981, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). It apparently does not grow as well on very wet or dry sites (Allan and Steiner 1965, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987), but it has been described as having excellent tolerance to drought (Sharp 1977, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). Mature trees tolerate light shade but produce more fruits in full sun, and seedlings may be shade intolerant (Holtz 1981, Nestleroad et al. 1984, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). E. umbellata invades prairies and fields (Eckardt and Sather, 1987), and it also grows in forests in its native (Kaushal and Parmar, 1982) and alien (Reed, 1993) ranges.
    General impacts
    Eckardt and Sather (1987) cite that the nitrogen-fixing capabilities of E. umbellata has the capacity to adversely affect the nitrogen cycle of native communities that may depend on infertile soils.Eckardt and Sather (1987) state that it exhibits prolific fruiting, rapid growth, is widely disseminated by birds, and can easily adapt to many sites. It is vigorous and competitive against native species (Nestleroad et al. 1984, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). E. umbellata seems to be a problem only in locations where small stands or rows were planted, usually within the last 10-20 years, and have begun to spread into adjacent fields or natural areas. It apparently can become troublesome where it occurs on or next to prairies with infrequent prescribed burns because it resprouts quickly after fire damage or cutting. E. umbellata is just beginning to be recognized as a potentially serious problem exotic.E. umbellata has the potential of becoming one of the most troublesome, adventive shrubs in the central and eastern United States (Sternberg 1982, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987).
    Uses
    Kaushal and Parmar (1982) state that the seeds and flowers of E. umbellata are said to be used as a stimulant in coughs and the expressed oil is used in pulmonary infections. The flowers are also used as an astringent and in cardiac ailments (Watt 1890, Kirtikar and Basu, 1938, in Kaushal and Parmar, 1982). Kaushal and Parmar (1982) report that the fruits are very good to eat and they have a remarkable keeping quality and can be stored up to 15 days at room temperature; they are very rich in protein. The plant is valued as an ornamental because of its silvery foliage and flowers and its hardiness under dry conditions. Thus, it is planted as a protective hedge around fields as a well as around houses and gardens. Reed (1993) states that it provides both cover and food for a variety of birds and mammals. The foliage provides thermal and nesting cover for birds and small mammals, especially when planted as windbreaks. Because of its nitrogen fixing abilities, autumn-olive has been utilized as a nurse plant for black walnut (Juglans nigra) in Canada and the United States.
    Geographical range
    Native range: Elaeagnus umbellata is native to China, Korea, and Japan.
    Known introduced range: E. umbellata was introduced to the United States for cultivation in 1830 (Rehder 1940, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). It occurs from Maine to New Jersey and Pennsylvania (Fernald 1950, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987) and west to Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri (Holtz 1981, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). Reed (1993) states that it also occurs, but has not naturalized in, Hawai‘i, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Kaushal and Parmar (1982) state that it occurs in India and Afghanistan.
    Introduction pathways to new locations
    Agriculture: E. umbellata was introduced to the United States for cultivation in 1830 (Rehder 1940, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987).
    For ornamental purposes: The plant is valued as an ornamental because of its silvery foliage and flowers and its hardiness under dry conditions (Kaushal and Parmar, 1982).
    Landscape/fauna "improvement": Because of its nitrogen fixing abilities, autumn-olive has been utilized as a nurse plant for black walnut (Juglans nigra) in Canada and the United States (Reed 1993).
    Other: Seeds are still distributed for wildlife plantings in some states, such as Missouri, although the state conservation department is working to stop distribution (Kurz pers. comm., in Eckardt and Sather, 1987).


    Local dispersal methods
    Consumption/excretion: The seeds are ingested with fruit and are dispersed by birds and mammals (Reed, 1993).
    Management information
    Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of Elaeagnus umbellata for Hawai‘i and other Pacific islands was prepared by Dr. Curtis Daehler (UH Botany) with funding from the Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program and US Forest Service. The alien plant screening system is derived from Pheloung et al. (1999) with minor modifications for use in Pacific islands (Daehler et al. 2004). The result is a score of 13 and a recommendation of: "Likely to cause significant ecological or economic harm in Hawai‘i and on other Pacific Islands as determined by a high WRA score, which is based on published sources describing species biology and behaviour in Hawai‘i and/or other parts of the world."

    Chemical: Eckardt and Sather (1987) state that since burning and cutting stimulate resprouting, herbicide treatment may be necessary to eradicate large patches of E. umbellata. One method of application is to cut the plant off at the main stem and paint the herbicide on the stump. Glyphosate is effective and commonly used. Foliar applications may be adequate for small patches; the recommended dilution of glyphosate in this case is a 1-2% solution. Dormant season basal applications (stem injections) of triclopyr alone or in combination with 2,4-D provided excellent control of autumn olive at very low concentrations (down to 1% triclopyr in diesel oil) (Kuhns 1986, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). The lowest concentrations of triclopyr and all treatments with the 2,4- D/triclopyr combinations provided slower kills than higher concentrations of triclopyr alone, but only one of the treatment plants were expected to survive (Kuhns 1986, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). Dicamba applied with a surfactant provided 90% total kill and severely retarded the growth of surviving stems the following year (Kuhns 1986, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987).

    Nutrition
    Elaeagnus umbellata does very well on infertile soils because its root nodules house nitrogen-fixing actinomycetes (Sternberg 1982, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987).
    Reproduction
    Eckardt and Sather (1987) state that Elaeagnus umbellata grows rapidly, producing fruits in 3-5 years. It produces a large amount of seed, each tree producing 1-3.5kg of seed per year and the number of seeds per kg range from 44,400 - 120,000.
    Lifecycle stages
    Cold stratification is required to break embryo dormancy (Holtz 1981, in Eckardt and Sather, 1987). Eckardt and Sather (1987) state that the effect of stratification by passing through a bird's digestive tract has apparently not been reported. Reed (1993) states that optimum germination is achieved with a minimum stratification period of 16 weeks at 10-20 deg C.
    Reviewed by: Dr. Robin A. Harrington. Department of Natural Resources Conservation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst USA
    Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
    Last Modified: Monday, 7 March 2005


ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland