Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees


Eleagnus Angustiflolia - Oleaster - Russian Olive

There are about 45 species of Eleagnus that come from all around the World, some of which are trees, some bushes, whilst others are scrambling climbers. All species of Eleagnus have glossy leaves, but some are deciduous and some are evergreen. All bear attractive clusters of small flowers that are followed by fruits, which by definition are called “Drupes.” These are fleshy fruits that contain a stone, which has a colonel inside that. “Drupes” that most people will know best are plums and peaches. Most Eleagnus produce fruits that are edible whilst some crop better than others.

Eleagnus are frost hardy, vigorous and free from many of the common problems associated with other shrubs. Tolerating almost any soil type and not fussy about conditions, plants are to seen on sale everywhere with their attractive glossy green leaves, which on many varieties, are also variegated. Plants will re-shoot even if they are heavily cut back for shaping, making some species, with their thorny stems, ideal for rough hedging. 

E. Pungens or Silverberry is one such popular thorny variety with its fragrant cream flowers that are produced in the autumn.

Propagation is normally done from seeds for the deciduous species, whereas cuttings are normally taken of evergreen types.

E. Umbellata or Autumn Olive, is deciduous, or at least semi-deciduous, and has the same attractive flowers which are followed by edible berries that ripen to a pale red. These contrast vividly with the pale yellow autumn leaf colour as the leaves turn ready for dropping.

E.  Angustifolia or Oleaster or Russian Olive.
This deciduous species is larger than most other Eleagnus as it will grow up to 30 feet or more.  In the late Spring, or early summer, pale yellow scented flowers are followed by edible yellowish fruit which are coated in silver scales. Eleagnus berries will be ripe in the Autumn and ready for picking, but do remember that many Eleagnus have rather spiteful thorns.

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