History in the United States
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Elaeagnus umbellata is native to China, Korea and Japan and was introduced to the United States for cultivation in 1830 (Rehder 1940). It occurs from Maine to New Jersey and Pennsylvania (Fernald 1950) and west to Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri (Holtz 1981).
Autumn-olive occurs throughout the eastern United States, from Maine, west to Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and south into Florida [5,9,26,27,36,38,46,51,57,63,71,75,77,78]. It also occurs in southern and eastern Ontario  and Hawaii . Kartesz and Meacham  recognize E. umbellata var. parvifolia, with the same distribution as autumn-olive.
Northern distribution of invasive autumn-olive populations in North America may be limited by cold intolerance from USDA climate zone 5 north , although one cultivar has been described as "hardy" to zone 6 . Autumn-olive is native to Asia and was introduced to North America around 1830 [5,19,51,57,65,71,77].
The following biogeographic classification systems demonstrate where autumn-olive could potentially be found based on floras and other literature, herbarium samples, and confirmed observations. Predicting distribution of nonnative species is difficult due to gaps in understanding of their biological and ecological characteristics, and because they may still be expanding their range. These lists are speculative and may not be accurately restrictive or complete.
States or Provinces
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
14 Great Plains
Distribution and Habitat in the United States
The following description provides characteristics of autumn-olive that may be relevant to fire ecology and is not meant to be used for identification. Keys for identifying autumn-olive are available (e.g. [5,18,38,46,51,71,77]). Photos and descriptions of autumn-olive are also available online at the Invasive.org and Invasive Plant Atlas of New England websites.
Autumn-olive is a many-branched, deciduous shrub or shrubby tree, growing 10 to16 feet (3-5 m) tall [5,14,18,19,46,77]. Leaves are alternate [5,18,19,46,51,57], simple [19,46], and variable in size , ranging from 0.4 to 3 inches (1-8 cm) long and 0.4 to 1.6 inches (1-4 cm) wide [5,46,51]. Thorns several inches in length are formed on spur branches . Autumn-olive fruits are single-seeded drupes, 0.2 to 0.4 inches (4-10 mm) in diameter, produced on pedicels [14,18,19,38,46,51,57].
The biology and ecology of autumn-olive are not well-studied in North America. More research is needed to better understand autumn-olive's key biological traits, habitat requirements and limitations, and interactions with native North American flora and fauna.
Description and Biology
- Plant: deciduous shrub that can grow to 20 ft. in height; stems, buds and leaves have a dense covering of silvery to rusty scales.
- Leaves: alternate; deciduous; egg or lance-shaped, smooth margined, dull green above and often with brown scales beneath.
- Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers occur in June and July; aromatic, pale yellow, fused at the base with 4 petals pointed at the tips; fruits are produced August through October; small, red-brown to pink and dotted with brown or silvery scales; abundant.
- Spreads: by seed that is dispersed by birds and mammals; some vegetative propagation also occurs.
- Look-alikes: Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) leaves are narrow-elongate with silvery scales on both sides and fruit is mealy, yellow or silvery; thorny olive (E. pungens) has leaves that are persistent, egg-shaped with wavy margins, upper surfaces shiny green, lacking scales, and lower surfaces covered with dull white scales and dotted with light brown scales.
Comments: Elaeagnus umbellata grows well on a variety of soils including sandy, loamy, and somewhat clayey textures with a pH range of 4.8-6.5 (Holtz 1981). It apparently does not grow as well on very wet or dry sites (Allan and Steiner 1965), but Sharp (1977) described it as having excellent tolerance to drought. It does very well on infertile soils because its root nodules house nitrogen-fixing actinomycetes (Sternberg 1982). Mature trees tolerate light shade, but produce more fruits in full sun, and seedlings may be shade intolerant (Holtz 1981, Nestleroad et al. 1984).
Autumn-olive has been planted throughout much of eastern North America for various purposes (Management Considerations), and has subsequently escaped into a variety of natural and seminatural habitats [4,10,40,71]. For example, Invasive Plant Atlas of New England  lists the following general habitats where autumn-olive may be found in New England: abandoned field, abandoned gravel pit, early-successional forest, edge, pasture, planted forest, railroad right-of-way, roadside, utility right-of-way, vacant lot, yard, or garden. It is probably most prolific on disturbed or ruderal sites [5,8,26,40,77].
Autumn-olive grows best on deep, relatively coarse-textured soils that are moderately-well to well drained [1,65]. It does less well on very dry soil and usually fails on very shallow, poorly drained, or excessively wet soil. Autumn-olive does not require highly fertile soil, and it appears to thrive equally well on soils ranging from "moderately acid to moderately alkaline" . In Ontario, escaped autumn-olive is found in a variety of dry to mesic sandy, forested and open to sparsely shaded habitats, with soil pH from 5-7. It is most invasive in areas of dry sandy soils. Although it has been cultivated on fine-textured, periodically wet soils, it is generally not invasive on such sites in southern Ontario .
Key Plant Community Associations
Autumn-olive is found across many habitats in North America
(see Site Characteristics), and may be associated with a variety of plant taxa, functional guilds and communities.
As of this writing (2003), there is very little published information concerning
habitat types and plant communities where autumn-olive might invade.
Autumn-olive is not a climax dominant or indicator species in habitat type classifications.
Catling et al.  described the following habitats in southern and
eastern Ontario where escaped autumn-olive was found most frequently: deciduous
and mixed forests dominated by black oak (Quercus velutina), white oak (Q.
alba), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), and red maple (Acer rubrum);
eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) glades; prairie/savanna relicts dominated by
indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans); coniferous plantations; seasonally wet,
"open floodplain thickets;" gravelly till in northern white-cedar
(Thuja occidentalis) floodplain slope woodland; raised sandy
knolls in open to sparsely shaded graminoid fens; and low sand dunes in eastern cottonwood
(Populus deltoides) savanna.
Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):
More info for the terms: cover, hardwood
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
611 Blue grama-buffalo grass
802 Missouri prairie
803 Missouri glades
804 Tall fescue
808 Sand pine scrub
809 Mixed hardwood and pine
810 Longleaf pine-turkey oak hills
815 Upland hardwood hammocks
817 Oak hammocks
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the terms: cover, swamp
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce-tamarack
14 Northern pin oak
15 Red pine
17 Pin cherry
18 Paper birch
19 Gray birch-red maple
20 White pine-northern red oak-red maple
21 Eastern white pine
22 White pine-hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
24 Hemlock-yellow birch
25 Sugar maple-beech-yellow birch
26 Sugar maple-basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry-maple
30 Red spruce-yellow birch
31 Red spruce-sugar maple-beech
32 Red spruce
33 Red spruce-balsam fir
34 Red spruce-Fraser fir
35 Paper birch-red spruce-balsam fir
37 Northern white-cedar
39 Black ash-American elm-red maple
40 Post oak-blackjack oak
42 Bur oak
43 Bear oak
44 Chestnut oak
45 Pitch pine
46 Eastern redcedar
50 Black locust
51 White pine-chestnut oak
52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
58 Yellow-poplar-eastern hemlock
59 Yellow-poplar-white oak-northern red oak
60 Beech-sugar maple
61 River birch-sycamore
62 Silver maple-American elm
65 Pin oak-sweetgum
69 Sand pine
70 Longleaf pine
71 Longleaf pine-scrub oak
72 Southern scrub oak
73 Southern redcedar
74 Cabbage palmetto
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine-oak
78 Virginia pine-oak
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine-shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
82 Loblolly pine-hardwood
83 Longleaf pine-slash pine
84 Slash pine
85 Slash pine-hardwood
88 Willow oak-water oak-diamondleaf (laurel) oak
89 Live oak
91 Swamp chestnut oak-cherrybark oak
92 Sweetgum-willow oak
93 Sugarberry-American elm-green ash
94 Sycamore-sweetgum-American elm
95 Black willow
97 Atlantic white-cedar
107 White spruce
108 Red maple
110 Black oak
236 Bur oak
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
More info for the term: bog
KUCHLER  PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K065 Grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie
K073 Northern cordgrass prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K077 Bluestem-sacahuista prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K083 Cedar glades
K084 Cross Timbers
K093 Great Lakes spruce-fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce-fir forest
K097 Southeastern spruce-fir forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K099 Maple-basswood forest
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K101 Elm-ash forest
K102 Beech-maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods-fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods-spruce forest
K109 Transition between K104 and K106
K110 Northeastern oak-pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
K115 Sand pine scrub
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES38 Plains grasslands
Tubercularia anamorph of Nectria cinnabarina infects and damages branch of Elaeagnus umbellata
Remarks: season: 1-12
Elaeagnus umbellata is one of the earlier shrubs to break dormancy, putting out foliage in mid-March in southern Illinois and advancing north with the season about 100 miles per week (Sternberg 1982). It grows rapidly, producing fruits in 3-5 years. Anthesis occurs after first leaves are out from May to June. Flowers are fragrant and pollinated by a variety of insects (Holtz 1981). The drupes are silvery with brown scales when immature, ripening to a speckled red in September-October. Most fruits are eaten by birds or fall to the ground by early winter (Sternberg 1982). E. umbellata produces a large amount of seed, each tree producing 2-8 lbs. of seed per year and the number of seeds per lb. ranging from 20,000-54,000. The seeds are widely distributed by birds and have a high rate of germination (Holtz 1981). Cold stratification is required to break embryo dormancy (Holtz 1981). The effect of stratification by passing through a bird's digestive tract has apparently not been reported.
Fire Management Considerations
As of this writing (2003) it is unclear what impacts fire might have on invasive populations of autumn-olive or on communities where autumn-olive is invasive. Research is needed to determine the immediate effects of fire on autumn-olive, its ability to survive 1 or more fires, and its relative competitiveness in postfire communities.
It appears that autumn-olive will sprout in response to damage from fire, indicating a single burn is probably not sufficient to eradicate it [37,53,59]. It is unclear how effective multiple prescribed burns might be for controlling invasive autumn-olive. While a single fire is unlikely to eradicate autumn-olive, periodic burning might control its spread and eventually reduce its presence. Any management activity that removes aboveground tissue, prevents seed production, and depletes energy reserves is likely to reduce autumn-olive invasiveness, especially when conducted persistently.
Postfire colonization via nearby seed sources seems likely (see Seed dispersal), provided there is enough light for seedling establishment in the postfire environment. However, more information is needed describing seedbed requirements for autumn-olive seed germination and seedling establishment.
Apart from questions about effectiveness of prescribed fire as an autumn-olive control measure, use of fire in areas where autumn-olive is present may or may not be appropriate, depending on management goals and the particular ecosystem involved. Using fire to control autumn-olive in habitats where fire is infrequent may do substantial damage to fire-intolerant native species. Conversely, fire may be appropriate where management goals include maintaining native seral species or otherwise enhancing ecosystem structure and function through use of prescribed fire. For more information regarding fire effects on native flora, see the appropriate FEIS species summaries on this website.
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Tall shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
Information about autumn-olive and fire is lacking. Research that examines the interactions of fire and autumn-olive, the effects these interactions may have on native communities and ecosystems and their respective FIRE REGIMES is needed.
Fire adaptations: As of this writing (2003) there is no published information describing adaptations of autumn-olive to fire. It is likely, though speculative, that autumn-olive generally responds to fire damage by sprouting (see Asexual regeneration). Russian-olive (E. angustifolia), another introduced and invasive Elaeagnus in North America, sprouts from the root crown following fire (see FEIS botanical and ecological summary for Russian-olive).
FIRE REGIMES: The following table lists fire return intervals for communities or ecosystems throughout North America where autumn-olive may occur. This list is presented as a guideline to illustrate historic FIRE REGIMES and is not to be interpreted as a strict description of FIRE REGIMES for autumn-olive. For further information on fire regimes in these communities or ecosystems see the corresponding FEIS summary for the dominant taxa listed below.
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|silver maple-American elm||A. saccharinum-Ulmus americana||< 35 to 200|
|sugar maple||A. saccharum||> 1,000|
|sugar maple-basswood||A. saccharum-Tilia americana||> 1,000 |
|bluestem prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||33,43]|
|Nebraska sandhills prairie||A. gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium||< 10|
|bluestem-Sacahuista prairie||A. littoralis-Spartina spartinae||43]|
|plains grasslands||Bouteloua spp.||< 35|
|blue grama-buffalo grass||B. gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides||43,76]|
|sugarberry-America elm-green ash||Celtis laevigata-Ulmus americana-Fraxinus pennsylvanica||< 35 to 200|
|Atlantic white-cedar||Chamaecyparis thyoides||35 to > 200 |
|northern cordgrass prairie||Distichlis spicata-Spartina spp.||1-3 |
|beech-sugar maple||Fagus spp.-Acer saccharum||> 1,000|
|black ash||Fraxinus nigra||72]|
|cedar glades||Juniperus virginiana||3-7 |
|wheatgrass plains grasslands||Pascopyrum smithii||43,45,76]|
|Great Lakes spruce-fir||Picea-Abies spp.||35 to > 200|
|northeastern spruce-fir||Picea-Abies spp.||35-200 |
|southeastern spruce-fir||Picea-Abies spp.||35 to > 200 |
|red spruce*||P. rubens||35-200|
|jack pine||Pinus banksiana||7]|
|shortleaf pine||P. echinata||2-15|
|shortleaf pine-oak||P. echinata-Quercus spp.||< 10|
|slash pine||P. elliottii||3-8|
|slash pine-hardwood||P. elliottii-variable||< 35|
|sand pine||P. elliottii var. elliottii||25-45 |
|longleaf-slash pine||P. palustris-P. elliottii||1-4 [39,72]|
|longleaf pine-scrub oak||P. palustris-Quercus spp.||6-10|
|Table Mountain pine||P. pungens||72]|
|red pine (Great Lakes region)||P. resinosa||10-200 (10**) [7,15]|
|red-white-jack pine*||P. resinosa-P. strobus-P. banksiana||10-300 [7,21]|
|pitch pine||P. rigida||6-25 [3,22]|
|eastern white pine||P. strobus||35-200|
|eastern white pine-eastern hemlock||P. strobus-Tsuga canadensis||35-200|
|eastern white pine-northern red oak-red maple||P. strobus-Q. rubra-Acer rubrum||35-200|
|loblolly pine||P. taeda||3-8|
|loblolly-shortleaf pine||P. taeda-P. echinata||10 to < 35|
|Virginia pine||P. virginiana||10 to < 35|
|Virginia pine-oak||P. virginiana-Quercus spp.||10 to < 35|
|sycamore-sweetgum-American elm||Platanus occidentalis-Liquidambar styraciflua-U. americana||72]|
|eastern cottonwood||Populus deltoides||43]|
|aspen-birch||P. tremuloides-Betula papyrifera||35-200 [7,72]|
|black cherry-sugar maple||Prunus serotina-A. saccharum||> 1,000|
|oak-hickory||Quercus-Carya spp.||< 35|
|northeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||10 to < 35|
|southeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||< 10|
|white oak-black oak-northern red oak||Q. alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra||< 35|
|northern pin oak||Q. ellipsoidalis||< 35|
|bear oak||Q. ilicifolia||< 35|
|bur oak||Q. macrocarpa||72]|
|oak savanna||Q. macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||2-14 [43,72]|
|chestnut oak||Q. prinus||3-8|
|northern red oak||Q. rubra||10 to < 35|
|post oak-blackjack oak||Q. stellata-Q. marilandica||< 10|
|black oak||Q. velutina||< 35|
|live oak||Q. virginiana||10 to72]|
|cabbage palmetto-slash pine||Sabal palmetto-P. elliottii||39,72]|
|little bluestem-grama prairie||Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp.||43]|
|eastern hemlock-yellow birch||T. canadensis-Betula alleghaniensis||> 200 |
More info for the terms: density, hardwood, succession, tree
Autumn-olive appears best adapted to early-successional habitats in North America. It has been called "moderately" shade tolerant , but is thought to be generally absent from areas with very low light intensity, such as under a dense forest canopy . Edgin and Ebinger  noted autumn-olive plants were restricted to "open canopy areas" within the interior of an "old-growth" forest along the Wabash River in southwestern Indiana. Based on this observation, they suggested autumn-olive is "not well adapted to low-light conditions."
The possibility of autumn-olive invasion in forested habitats should not be precluded on the basis of successional status. Ebinger and Lehnen  describe the following habitats in east-central Illinois where autumn-olive has invaded from nearby plantings: 1) a small plantation of pines (Pinus spp.), 3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 m) tall; 2) small ravines in the "early tree stage of succession," containing "scattered individuals" of black walnut (Juglans nigra), prairie crabapple (Malus ioensis), shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria), northern red oak (Q. rubra), black cherry (Prunus serotina), and American elm (Ulmus americana), mostly less than 4 inches (10 cm) dbh; 3) a grazed upland forest dominated by white oak, mostly between 12 and 20 inches (30-50 cm) dbh. Data from sample plots (see table below) indicate autumn-olive stems were numerous within these sites, with a substantial proportion of plants greater than 20 inches (50 cm) tall. While it is difficult to draw firm conclusions from these and previous site descriptions without more detailed information, it appears autumn-olive has at least some ability to establish under a forest canopy.
|Habitat||autumn-olive density (stems/ha)||proportion autumn-olive plants >20 inches tall|
|oak (Quercus spp.) forest||67,925||7%|
As of this writing (2003) there is very little published information describing regeneration biology in autumn-olive. Research is needed to determine the precise nature of asexual regeneration, conditions that promote or constrain seedling establishment and early growth, and the role of soil-stored seed in autumn-olive invasiveness.
Seed production: Mature plants can produce about 30 pounds (14 kg) of fruit annually. Thirty pounds of fruit is generally equivalent to about 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of seed, or about 66,000 seeds . Under favorable conditions, autumn-olive can produce fruit by 3 to 5 years of age, usually at about 4 to 8 feet (1.2-2.4 m) in height. Fruit production is reduced by shading .
Seed banking: No information
Germination: Autumn-olive seed germination is enhanced by a period of cold stratification. Fowler and Fowler  determined germination rates for unstratified seeds were significantly (p<0.05) lower than those receiving 8 or more weeks of cold stratification at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 ÂºC). Optimal conditions for autumn-olive germination were 16-20 weeks of cold stratification followed by 2 weeks of night/day temperatures of 50/62 degrees Fahrenheit (10/20. These conditions resulted in >90% germination.
However, cold stratification is not a prerequisite for germination. Fowler and Fowler  found 51% of unstratified seeds germinated after 10 weeks of night/day temperatures of 50/62 degrees Fahrenheit (10/20 ÂºC). Jinks and Ciccarese  found that >70% of seeds from their "control" group germinated after 8 weeks despite receiving no cold temperature treatment.
Seedling establishment/growth: No information
Asexual regeneration: Solecki  and Szafoni  indicated burned, mowed, and cut plants "resprout vigorously." The Invasive Plant Atlas of New England website  reports that if autumn olive is cut, "it resprouts abundantly," and burning only results in resprouting "from the stump." Russian-olive (E. angustifolia), another introduced and invasive Elaeagnus in North America, sprouts from the root crown and sends up root suckers (see FEIS botanical and ecological summary for Russian-olive).
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the terms: geophyte, phanerophyte
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
Plant Response to Fire
Broad-scale Impacts of Fire
Life History and Behavior
The following table describes approximate flowering times reported from a variety of North American locations:
|Northeastern U.S. ||X||X|
|New England ||X||X|
|Blue Ridge Mountains ||X||X|
|West Virginia ||X||X|
|North & South Carolina ||X||X|
In the central and southern Appalachian regions, autumn-olive fruit ripens in August and September [46,57]. Fruit generally remains on the plant until late winter . Autumn-olive generally produces leaves in early spring, prior to most native plants [55,59]
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Elaeagnus umbellata
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Elaeagnus umbellata
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 28
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Autumn-olive is ranked as a "severe threat" (exotic plant species that possess characteristics of invasive species and spread easily into native plant communities and displace native vegetation) by the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council . It is also ranked as a "severe threat" (exotic plant species which possess characteristics of invasive species and spread easily into native plant communities and displace native vegetation; includes species which are or could become widespread in Kentucky) by the Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council .
Autumn-olive is listed among the top 10 exotic pest plants in Georgia , and among "highly invasive species" (species that may disrupt ecosystem processes and cause major alterations in plant community composition and structure and that establish readily in natural systems and spread rapidly) by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation . It is listed as a Category II exotic plant species (considered to have the potential to displace native plants either on a localized or widespread scale) by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy of Vermont , and as a noxious weed in several West Virginia counties .
U.S. Forest Service Region 8 (Southern Region) lists autumn-olive as a category 1 weed (exotic plant species that are known to be invasive and persistent throughout all or most of their range within the Southern Region and that can spread into and persist in native plant communities and displace native plant species and therefore pose a demonstrable threat to the integrity of the natural plant communities in the Region). The introduction of Category 1 Species is prohibited on National Forest System Lands .
Management Requirements: Elaeagnus 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.
Since burning and cutting stimulate resprouting, herbicide treatment may be necessary to eradicate large patches. 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. Kurz (pers. comm.) and Nyboer (pers. comm.) recommended a 10-20% dilution for painting on stumps. Foliar applications may be adequate for small patches; the recommended dilution of glyphosate in this case is a 1-2% solution. Kurz (pers. comm.) stated that the best time for herbicide application is in late August or September when the plant is actively translocating materials to the roots.
Kuhns (1986) reported that March 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). 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). Foliar applications of 2,4-D, triclopyr or metsulfuron methyl in late May or June at recommended rates did not provide adequate control, and even plants that were severely injured recovered the following year. Dicamba applied in late June at 4 lbs/gal (2 qts/100 gal/acre) with a surfactant provided 90% total kill and severely retarded the growth of surviving stems the following year (Kuhns 1986). Glyphosate was not included in this study.
Ohlenbusch and Ritty (1979) reported excellent results for the control of russian olive (E. angustifolia) in Kansas using a variety of herbicides and treatments. Applications were made on June 14 and results evaluated in late August. Foliar applications of 2,4,5-T, silvex, dicamba, picloram, and glyphosate, all in a 90% water/10% diesel oil carrier, resulted in total root kill. However, glyphosate in both 1% and 2% solutions damaged herbaceous plants under the trees so extensively that foliar application of this chemical is not recommended.
Basal application of 2,4,5-T, silvex, and triclopyr, all mixed in diesel oil and applied June 14, also resulted in 100% control. A second study by the same authors indicated that diesel oil alone also provides highly effective basal control of E. angustifolia (Ohlenbusch and Ritty 1979).
Management Programs: Elaeagnus umbellata is not a problem on many preserve lands. It occurs on some state managed natural ares in Illinois and Missouri where management has implemented control programs consisting of herbicide application. Contact: Don Kurz, Natural History Section, Missouri Conservation Dept., P.O. 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102 and Randy Nyboer, Illinois Dept. of Conservation, 2612 Locust St., Sterling, IL 61081.
Management Research Needs: Elaeagnus umbellata is not a priority species for research. There are some indications that its abundance may be increasing, both by continued planting and by seed dispersal from naturalized populations (see Nestleroad et al. 1984 and Sternberg 1982) but little data is available on population dynamics within its range. Questions for consideration include: how well does E. umbellata compete with and displace native vegetation? What is the affect on growth and reproduction of repeated burning over several years?
Impacts and Control
Impacts: In general, invasive autumn-olive impacts native biotic communities in eastern North America by displacing native plants. Invasive populations can supplant native habitat, sometimes forming dense thickets. Prodigious seed production and widespread seed dispersal by frugivorous birds probably contribute to its invasiveness . An Illinois study reported autumn-olive concentrations of 5,225 stems per hectare in a pine plantation, 27,500 stems per hectare in a grazed upland woods, and 33,975 stems per hectare in hardwood-dominated ravines . Autumn-olive densities of 125,000 plants hectare were recorded in the understory of a yellow-poplar-sweetgum plantation in southwestern Indiana in 2000. This population was established from nearby plantings in the early 1970's. Although 90% of these individuals were 2 feet (0.6 m) or less in height, they formed "a nearly impenetrable thicket" and were "commonly the only understory species present" .
Nestleroad and others  have suggested that impacts of invasive autumn-olive may be greatest in communities adapted to infertile soils, where its nitrogen-fixing capabilities might confer substantial competitive advantage against native species. It is conceivable that autumn-olive could alter the nitrogen cycle in "infertility-dependent" natural communities, shifting the potential native community on these sites. Nestleroad and others  expressed concern that natural communities of sandy, infertile habitats in southern and eastern Ontario, and throughout the Great Lakes region, are already seriously impacted by other pressures.
Control: Controlling invasive autumn-olive may require frequent monitoring and repeated treatments to achieve success. Because seeds can be dispersed long distances by birds, it is helpful to eradicate autumn-olive populations in areas surrounding the threatened area, when possible. If the infested area is large, or if eradication of surrounding populations is not feasible, land managers may wish to focus control efforts in the most ecologically significant and/or least invaded areas first. In closed-canopy forests, control can likely be achieved through routine monitoring and eradication of new individuals by hand pulling or spot-spraying with herbicide .
Prevention: Where appropriate, maintaining dense, frequently mowed grass or other dense native vegetation can help prevent establishment of autumn-olive seedlings .
Integrated management: No information
Physical/mechanical: Hand pulling young seedlings and sprouts can be effective, particularly from moist soil [53,59]. Seedlings are easiest to identify in early spring because autumn-olive produces leaves earlier than most native shrubs [55,59]. Mowed or cut plants reportedly "resprout vigorously" [53,59], so these methods alone will probably not effectively control mature plants. Even repeated cutting is apparently ineffective without treating stumps and/or resprouts with herbicide . Treating cut surfaces with glyphosate is an effective control measure and can minimize negative impacts on native vegetation when carefully applied (see Chemical control) [53,59].
Fire: See Fire Management Considerations.
Biological: No information
Chemical: Several herbicides have been used alone or in combination to provide effective control of autumn-olive, including glyphosate, triclopyr, 2,4-D, and dicamba. This is not intended as an exhaustive review of chemical control methods. For more information regarding appropriate use of herbicides against invasive plant species in natural areas, see The Nature Conservancy's Weed control methods handbook. For more information specific to herbicide use against autumn-olive, see The Nature Conservancy's Element Stewardship abstract of autumn-olive and the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) and Illinois Nature Preserves Commission websites.
Dicamba and 2,4-D have been used as a foliar application to effectively control autumn-olive [35,53,59]. Triclopyr has also been used effectively on resprouts following cutting . Because this method is conducted during the growing season, and because 100% coverage of foliage is recommended for most effective control, Szafoni  suggests that foliar application is best suited to shorter plants.
For larger plants, basal-bark application of triclopyr or 2,4-D can control invasive autumn-olive [11,35,53]. Basal-bark treatment is the application of herbicide solution directly to the bark the lower portion of woody plants. Herbicide then penetrates the bark and is absorbed by the plant . Rather than a broad band application, a thin line of herbicide applied around the entire circumference of the stem 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) above the ground is sufficient, and less likely to harm nearby, desirable plants [53,59].
Direct application of glyphosate to cut stumps can also be effective, particularly late in the growing season (July-September) [53,59]. According to Szafoni , reduced application rates of 10-20% solution (compared with 50-100% recommended on some glyphosate product labels) are sufficient for effective treatment of cut stems. Careful application of herbicide directly to target plants can reduce damage to nearby, desirable vegetation .
Multiple herbicide treatments may be required to completely kill all plants. Edgin and Ebinger  describe treating an invasive population of autumn-olive in Illinois with basal-bark applications of triclopyr during springs of 1996 and 1997. A subsequent search in early summer 1997 yielded no evidence of live autumn-olive in treated areas. But by 2000, autumn-olive had re-established within these same treated areas. Because a dense population of well-established autumn-olive remained in an area adjacent to treatment plots, many of the newly established plants were assumed to have originated from the seed bank or from seeds transported into the plots by birds after herbicide treatments. But nearly 11% of the larger stems (2.6 to 4.9 feet (80-150 cm) tall) had an "enlarged basal caudex" and were considered to be resprouts that were only top-killed by the herbicide treatment.
Cultural: No information
Prevention and Control
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Comments: Elaeagnus umbellata has been planted in the eastern and central United States for revegetation of strip mines and other disturbed areas, as an ornamental shrub, as wildlife cover, and less so as a nectar source for honeybees, a potential biomass energy crop, and food for human consumption.
Other uses and values
Autumn-olive has been promoted for reclamation of mine spoils and other disturbed soils [1,13]. It has been planted for reclamation of surface coal mine sites because it is tolerant of low pH soil conditions often found on these sites [14,23,68]. It has also been suggested for use in stabilizing eroded soils in exposed coastal areas due to its salt spray tolerance . An additional benefit to planting autumn-olive in these and other situations, where reclamation of disturbed and frequently nutrient-poor soils is an important objective, is its ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen [13,60].
Autumn-olive is used in plantations for companion planting with black walnut to enhance black walnut productivity. It is thought autumn-olive enhances black walnut growth by increasing ecosystem nitrogen pools through nitrogen fixation and by decreasing herbaceous competition [44,49,50,61,69]. Field experiments have demonstrated that interplanting autumn-olive with black walnut can increase seasonal soil nitrogen mineralization rates , significantly (p < 0.01) increase black walnut leaf nitrogen concentration , and substantially improve black walnut growth and yield [6,42,44,44,70], compared with growing black walnut alone. Interplanting autumn-olive may also indirectly enhance black walnut growth and yield by reducing incidence of leaf fungal diseases through interactions with fungivorous microarthropods in the litter layer [31,32]. White ash (Fraxinus americana) growth and yield also increases when interplanted with autumn olive .
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Autumn-olive has been promoted as a beneficial wildlife species and planted in wildlife management areas in the eastern U.S. to provide food and cover [8,9,10,14,20,23]. Fruit remains on the plant until late winter (see Seasonal Development), potentially becoming an important wildlife food during periods of seasonal food scarcity . Fruits are consumed by a variety of wildlife, including songbirds, northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse, mourning doves, ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, mallards, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and black bears [1,23,57]. Songbirds that eat autumn-olive fruit include: gray catbirds, hermit thrushes, wood thrushes, house finches, American robins, cardinals, cedar waxwings, common grackles, evening grosbeaks, fox sparrows, house sparrows, song sparrows, white-throated sparrows, mockingbirds, myrtle warblers, purple finches, rufous-sided towhees, starlings, tree swallows, and veerys [1,40,58]. Autumn-olive is also browsed by white-tailed deer .
Palatability/nutritional value: No information
Cover value: Autumn-olive provides cover for wildlife, especially songbirds, game birds, and rabbits .
Stewardship Overview: Elaeagnus umbellata is planted in some states for wildlife cover. It invades disturbed areas adjacent to the plantings where encroachment can be rapid due to the high production of seeds, high germination rate, and hardiness of the plants. It also resprouts quickly after burning or cutting. Repeating cutting or burning may prevent spread, but may need to be conducted for many years, as resprouting will occur. Herbicides offer more effective control, and glyphosate is commonly painted on stumps after cutting in a 10-20% dilution in late August or September. Foliar sprays of glyphosate and dicamba may be effective but will damage other vegetation under the olive. Basal applications of triclopyr alone or in combination with 2,4-D applied in March (dormant season) will also provide effective control.
Species Impact: Elaeagnus umbellata has the potential of becoming one of the most troublesome adventive shrubs in the central and eastern United States (Sternberg 1982). 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, and resprouts after cutting (Nestleroad et al. 1984). Due to its nitrogen-fixing capabilities, it has the capacity to adversely affect the nitrogen cycle of native communities that may depend on infertile soils. E. umbellata is just beginning to be recognized as a potentially serious problem exotic. 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.).
Ecological Threat in the United States
Elaeagnus umbellata, is known as Japanese silverberry, umbellata oleaster, autumn olive, autumn elaeagnus, or spreading oleaster. The species is indigenous to eastern Asia and ranges from the Himalayas eastwards to Japan. Because it fixes atmospheric nitrogen in its roots, it often grows vigorously and competitively in infertile soils.
Elaeagnus umbellata grows as a deciduous shrub or small tree, typically up to 3.5 m tall, with a dense crown. It commonly bears sharp thorns in the form of spur branches. The leaves are alternate, 4–10 cm long and 2–4 cm wide, entire, but with wavy margins. The leaves are covered with minute silvery scales when they emerge early in spring, but turn greener above as the scales wear off during the summer. In this the plant differs from the related E. angustifolia, which remains silvery until it sheds its leaves in the fall.
The flowers are borne in the leaf axils in clusters of 1-7. They are pale yellowish-white, fragrant, (often heavily fragrant) and have a four-lobed corolla 1 cm long. The fruit is a small round drupe 1/4 to 1/3 inches (0.65 to 0.85 cm) in diameter. The unripe fruit is silvery-scaled and yellow. It ripens to red, dotted with silver or brown.
When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible, and also makes a good dried fruit. Though the fruit are small, the tree bears them abundantly. They are tart-tasting, with chewable seeds. Their content of the carotenoid, lycopene, is some seven to seventeen times higher than that of tomatoes.
In some parts of North America where it has become naturalized, Elaeagnus umbellata is considered an invasive species. It is considered a "prohibited noxious weed" under the Alberta Weed Control Act 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elaeagnus umbellata.|
- Species Profile - Autumn Olive, National Invasive Species Information Center, National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Elaeagnus umbellata.
- Black B, Fordham I (2007). "Autumn olive: weed or new cash crop?". New York Berry News. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
- "USDA GRIN Taxonomy".
- Parmar, C. and M.K. Kaushal. 1982. Elaeagnus umbellata. p. 23–25. In: Wild Fruits. Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi, India. at The Web site of the Center for New Crops & Plant Products, at Purdue University
- Munger, Gregory T. 2003. Elaeagnus umbellata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2012, November 30].
- Dirr, M. 1998. Manual of woody landscape plants : their identification, ornamental characteristics, culture, propagation and uses. Stipes, Champaign, Ill.
- Fordham, IM, Clevidence BA, Wiley ER et al. "Fruit of autumn olive; A rich source of lycopene" HortScience. Alexandria 36:1136-1137, 2001
- USDA invasive species identification sheet (pdf)
- "Alberta Invasive Plant Identification Guide". [[Wheatland County, Alberta|]]. 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
A-7 Gilgit: cult., R.R. Stewart s.n., p.p. (RAW); C-6 Kurram: Parachinar, R.R. Stewart 28038 (RAW).
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: In North America, only var. parvifolia of the species Elaeagnus umbellata is established as an exotic outside cultivation (Kartesz, 1994 checklist).
umbellata Thunb. (Elaeagnaceae) [5,18,19,29,38,46,48,51,57,71,75,77].
Kartesz and Meacham  recognize the variety Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.
var. parvifolia (Royle) Schneid.
Several cultivars have been developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Soil Conservation Service, and distributed for wildlife and other conservation uses
(see Importance To Livestock And Wildlife)
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