Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation
This article provide information on Autumn Olive Tree Facts and Propagation. This tree or bush bears edible fruit and is a nitrogen fixer. Autumn-Olive (elaegnus umbellate) also known as Autumn-Berry, is a deciduous shrub that can grow into a small multi-trunked tree reaching as high as 20 feet. The leaves are a grayish green and looks as though it has scales on the bottom of the leaves. The leaves are about three inches long and very narrow measuring only about one inch wide. It is often used in forest garden design to assist in repairing soil as the food forest garden matures.
It is a drought tolerant plant that can grow in full sun or partial shade. It does prefer well drained soil and does well on the edges of forests, hillsides, and abandoned fields. Birds like the fruit and propagate the seeds. It is a very hardy plant and is usually not bothered by deer. Some view Autumn Olive as a noxious invasive weed.
Forest Garden Design
Autumn olive is one of the few non-legume plants that fixes nitrogen in the soil. This is accomplished with the assistance of a certain bacteria called Frankia. This allows it to be a pioneer plant to grow where others can’t and begin to repair the land and soil making it a perfect plant in a Forest Garden Design.
Autumn Olive Fruit
Autumn Olive has tiny flowers in the spring that give way to berry fruit in the late summer and early fall. The flowers are fragrant and the plants are self-fertile. I have plants that bear red berries and plants that produce gold berries on my farm (both pictured on this post). The fruit is astringent (makes your mouth pucker) but sweet. As they sit on the bush they get softer, sweeter, and less astringent. The birds and small mammals like the berries as well, so don’t wait to long to harvest. A single bush can produce 20 to 70 pounds of fruit.
The fruit contains the carotenoid lycopene, which is several times higher than that of tomatoes. The fruit does contain seeds and it has been said that the seeds are chewable, but I have just eaten the flesh and spit the seeds out. I’ll have to try chewing them sometime and see what they are like.
Autumn Olive berries can be eaten right off the bush. They can also be used in jams, pies, fruit leathers, other deserts and juices. They store well frozen once cleaned.
Autumn olive is native to Asia and was introduced to North America in early to mid 1800s. It is hardy down to USDA zone 3 can be found growing in southern Canada and the majority of the United States.
I bought one of my Autumn Olives from RainTreeNursery.com and had good luck with them. Autumn Olive is one of the plants I will have for sale in the Great Escape Nursery store in 2016 or 2017.