Elaeagnus angustifolia L.
name: Elaeagnus angustifolia L.
Common Name(s): Russian olive or oleaster
History: Russian olive is a native plant to Eurasia
and introduced in the US in the early 1900's. It was
introduced first as a horticulture plant because people were
unaware of the negative impacts that it could have. When
it was planted thought it would be pest free in north America
because all its native pests had remained in Eurasia.
Although, 100 years after the first tree was planted, a fungus
disease was discovered in north America that killed the branches
and ultimately killed the tree in the end. The fungus
disease does not seem to be a large problem for those who want
to keep their Russian olive trees nor is it a good control for
those who want to get rid of their Russian olive trees.
Roots: The roots of Russian olive can grow very
deep extending to depths of 40 feet underground. In the
roots there are nitrogen-fixing bacteria that allow Russian
olive to grow on bare mineral substrate.
Stems and Leaves: The twigs of Russian olive are
often skinny and flexible, coated with a gray scaly like
substance with a thorn on the end. The bark towards the
base of the tree is reddish-brown in color and very thin.
When the bark is peeled off, is usually comes off in long narrow
strips. The leaves of Russian olive are linear with a
light green and gray color. They range in size from 1.7 to
3.5 inches long. The leaves also are covered with a
scale-like substance giving it a silvery appearance.
Flowers and seeds: Russian olive flowers from May
to July and has yellow flowers arranged in clusters. It
also produces a small oval shape, brownish-red fruit that
matures from August through October. Seeds are small and
brown and are produced after the tree is four to five years
old. Seeds can remain viable in the soil seed bank for
Methods of Reproduction: Russian olive reproduces
primarily by seed, although it also sprouts from buds at the
root crown and suckers from lateral roots can occur.
Environments favorable for infestation: Russian
olive prefers areas where the water table is near the soil
surface such as in riparian zones, flood plains, and valley
bottoms. It commonly grows near water tanks, irrigation ditches,
and springs; along roads, railways, and fence lines; and in
sub-irrigated pastures and grasslands. Russian olive can
survive in dry environments so has long been planted as windrows
and wildlife cover throughout north America.
Environmental impacts: Russian olive is problematic
in the Southwest because it favors riparian communities and
other moist environments. As populations increase, Russian olive
crowds out desirable native riparian trees such as cottonwood
and willow. Because of its ability to colonize stream banks,
Russian olive can alter the natural flooding regime and reduce
availability of nutrients and moisture.
Range: Russian Olive is widespread throughout the
United States and is considered a noxious weed in New
Mexico. In Montana it is left up to the individual county
to classify it as a noxious weed or not.
Prevention: It is hard to prevent the seeds from
spreading but, one way you can prevent Russian olive from
growing is by not planting any new trees for windrows or cover.
Mechanical: Mowing saplings close to the ground
with a brush mower helps keep them from sprouting into new
trees. Also, you can hand remove the trees by digging them
up or tearing them out of the ground with a tractor or
Biological: Currently there is no bio-control
insect for Russian olive. Although, well trained goats
will selectively graze on Russian olive seedlings and young
Chemical: Herbicide control can be used alone an in
combination with another control method. The type of
herbicide to use depends on many factors of the environment and
where the plant is growing. To see a chart of herbicide
recommendations visit: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5410126.pdf
1. "Field Guide for Managing Russian Olive in the
Southwest." United States
Department of Agriculture. Web. 14 Aug. 2015 http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5410126.pdf
2. "Russian Olive." Russian Olive. Web. 14
Aug. 2015. http://extension.usu.edu/rangeplants/htm/russian-olive
3. "Russian-Olive." Untitled. Web. 14
By: Bryce Murphy, 8-14-15.
Back to mtwow.org