Elaeagnus angustifolia
Midwest Noxious Weed: Do Not Plant
Common Name: Russian olive 
Type: Tree
Family: Elaeagnaceae
Native Range: Asia
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 12.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 12.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Silver-white (outside) and yellow (inside)
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest, Thorns
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil
This plant is listed as a noxious weed in one or more Midwestern states outside Missouri and should not be moved or grown under conditions that would involve danger of dissemination.


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in light, sandy loams in full sun. This is a vigorous, fast-growing plant that tolerates a wide variety of soils including both poor dry soils and wet heavy clays. Also tolerates wind, summer heat and saline conditions. Performs poorly in humid summer climates, however, and is not recommended for planting in the deep South (south of USDA Zone 7). Can spread by root suckers and self seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Elaeagnus angustifolia, commonly called Russian olive or oleaster is native to Europe and Asia. It is a small, usually thorny, deciduous tree or large shrub that is typically grown for its silvery foliage, small fragrant yellow flowers, olive-like fruit and ease of cultivation. It has been widely planted in North America as both a windbreak and an ornamental. As a tree, it typically grows 12-20’ tall. It responds well to clipping and can be grown much shorter as a hedge. Branches and trunk are covered with exfoliating brown bark that is attractive in winter. Twigs are occasionally thorny. Narrow, willow-like leaves (to 2” long) are dark green above and silvery beneath. Angustifolia means narrow-leaved. Fragrant apetalous flowers with four lobed calyces appear in clusters of 1-3 in leaf axils near the base of new shoots in late spring. Flowers are silvery white outside and yellowish inside. Flowers are followed in fall by an often abundant crop of berry-like, silver-scaled fruit resembling olives, hence the common name. Fruit is edible, and is sometimes used for making preserves. Fruit is also attractive to wildlife. Although relatively tame in the St. Louis climate, Russian olive has aggressively naturalized in many parts of the West, particularly in watersheads and marshlands of the Great Plains where it has self-seeded and spread along rivers and wetland areas, crowding out native plants such as cottonwoods and willows, to the point where it is now being considered a noxious weed.

The genus name Elaeagnus comes from the Greek words elaia meaning "olive tree" and agnos meaning "chaste" or "pure".

Specific epithet means having narrow leaves.


Canker and verticillium wilt are serious problems in some areas. Fungal leaf spot and rust may also occur.


Background plant. Screen or Barrier. Hedge. Accent in shrub border.