Scientific Name: Elaeagnus umbellata

Common Name: autumn olive

Other Common Names: oleaster

Leaves: Alternate, elliptic to ovate in outline, approximately 1 1/4 to 3 inches long, 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches wide. Upper leaf surfaces are dark green while leaf undersides are covered with grayish or silver 'scales'. Leaf margins are often wavy (undulate) and are untoothed.

Identifying Characteristics: A woody shrub that may reach up to 20 feet in height with yellow to cream colored flowers that appear in the spring and bunches of red berries that appear in the early fall. Woody, invasive shrubs that have a silvery cast and conspicuous red berries. Autumn olive is similar in appearance to russian olive, but russian olive has leaves that are much more elliptic to lanceolate, and has branches that are usually thorny.

Flower Seed Head: Occur in clusters of 5 to 10 in the region between the central stem and branches (axillary clusters). Individual flowers are approximately 1/2 inch long, are creamy white to yellow in color, and are also covered with silvery 'scales'.

Seed Fruit: A red to pink berry, speckled with scales, and also occurs in axillary clusters throughout the plant.

Where Found: Autumn olive was introduced into the United States from east Asia in the 1830's and is now an invasive weed of pastures, hay fields, roadsides, and rights-of-way. Autumn olive is found from Maine to Virginia, and west to Wisconsin.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Shrub

  • Thorns: Present

  • Plant family: Elaegnaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: oval

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Stem hairs: has hairs; no hairs

  • Flower color: white

  • Growth habit: woody bush or tree

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs; has hairs

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Flower symmetry: bilateral symetry

  • Root structure: taproot

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf