Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
autumn oleaster


Elaeagnus umbellata, commonly known as autumn olive, is a deciduous shrub with a bushy, spreading form. It features leaves that are a notable shimmering green on top with a distinctive silvery underside due to tiny scales. During the spring, the plant produces small yet fragrant flowers that have a creamy white or yellowish color. These blooms eventually give way to abundant red or pinkish berries peppered with silver scales, which are about a quarter of an inch in diameter. The berries typically appear in the fall and are attractive to both humans and wildlife. The branches often have thorns, and the bark is dark brown, fissured, and gets scaly with age. The overall appearance of the autumn olive is a mix of silvery foliage with splashes of colors from the flowers and fruits, making it noticeable in the landscape.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Autumn Olive, Japanese Silverberry, Silver Berry, Spreading Oleaster, Umbellata Oleaster.

    • Common names

      Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Autumn Olive is not considered toxic to humans. In fact, the berries of the Autumn Olive are edible and are often used in jams, jellies, and for wine-making. However, excessive consumption of the fruit can lead to typical digestive upset, as is common with overconsumption of many types of fruit.

    • To pets

      Autumn Olive is not widely recognized as a toxic plant to pets either. The fruit of the Autumn Olive may be eaten by some wildlife without apparent ill effect. However, as with any non-typical food, ingestion of plant material by pets could potentially cause mild gastrointestinal upset due to the novelty and fiber content. It's always wise to monitor your pets around plants and discourage them from eating ornamental vegetation to prevent any possible stomach upset or an unexpected allergic reaction.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      10-15 feet (3-4.5 meters)

    • Spread

      10-15 feet (3-4.5 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Erosion Control: Elaeagnus umbellata, commonly known as Autumn Olive, has extensive root systems that help stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
    • Wildlife Habitat: Autumn Olive provides shelter and nesting sites for various wildlife species including birds and small mammals.
    • Food Source: The berries of Autumn Olive are a food source for birds and other wildlife, and can also be consumed by humans when ripe.
    • Nitrogen Fixation: Autumn Olive has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, which can improve soil fertility and support the growth of neighboring plants.
    • Hedge Planting: Due to its dense growth habit, Autumn Olive can be used for privacy hedges or living fences, providing a natural barrier.
    • Ornamental Use: With its silvery foliage and fragrant flowers, Autumn Olive is often planted for ornamental purposes in landscapes and gardens.
    • Reclamation Species: Autumn Olive is capable of growing in disturbed or poor soils, making it a suitable species for reclamation projects.
    • Drought Tolerance: The plant is relatively drought-tolerant once established, reducing the need for supplemental watering in arid regions.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Antioxidant activity: The fruit of Elaeagnus umbellata has been found to contain high levels of antioxidants, which can help in neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body.
    • Anti-inflammatory properties: Some studies suggest that extracts from the leaves and fruits of the plant have anti-inflammatory effects, which might be beneficial in reducing inflammation-related conditions.
    • Nutritive value: The berries are known to be rich in vitamins and minerals, potentially supporting overall health and wellness.
    • Traditional medicine: In some cultures, parts of the plant have been used traditionally for various health issues, although scientific evidence to support these uses may be limited.
    Please note that while some studies suggest potential medical properties, the use of Elaeagnus umbellata for medicinal purposes is not widely supported by rigorous scientific research, and thus its efficacy and safety for these uses are not well-established.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Elaeagnus umbellata, also known as autumn olive, can be used for erosion control due to its extensive root system which helps stabilize soil.
    • The shrub can be planted as part of wildlife habitat restoration projects because it provides food for animals in the form of its berries.
    • Autumn olive is sometimes used for noise reduction barriers alongside highways since it forms dense thickets that can help absorb sound.
    • The wood of Elaeagnus umbellata is hard and durable, making it suitable for crafting small wooden items such as handles, walking sticks, and even furniture.
    • This plant can be used in hedgerows or living fences due to its dense growth and thorny branches, which can act as a physical barrier to livestock and unwelcome visitors.
    • Autumn olive's foliage is used for ornamental purposes because of its silvery-green leaves which can add a unique texture to landscape designs.
    • The plant can be integrated into permaculture gardens as a nitrogen-fixer that improves soil fertility for surrounding plants.
    • Elaeagnus umbellata has been used in land reclamation projects, especially on degraded lands where few other plants can thrive.
    • The fruit of autumn olive can be used for dyeing fabric, giving a range of colors from yellow to green depending on the mordant used.
    • Its dense growth habit provides ideal cover and nesting opportunities for various species of birds, aiding in maintaining bird populations in disturbed areas.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Autumn Olive is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Autumn Olive is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience: Elaeagnus umbellata, commonly known as autumn olive, is known for its hardy nature and ability to thrive in difficult conditions, symbolizing the ability to overcome adversity.
    • Perseverance: The plant's vigorous growth and tendency to spread reflect the idea of perseverance and relentless effort.
    • Prosperity: With its abundant red berries, autumn olive represents wealth and prosperity, as fruitfulness is often associated with richness in many cultures.
    • Healing: Due to its nitrogen-fixing capabilities which improve soil health, autumn olive is sometimes seen as a symbol for healing and restoration of the land.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Autumn Olive should be watered deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth. During the first growing season, it is essential to maintain even moisture, which often means watering every week or two, with around 1-2 gallons per watering depending on soil composition and climate. After establishment, this drought-tolerant shrub requires minimal watering, and natural rainfall will often suffice unless there are periods of extended drought. In such dry spells, reverting to a deep watering every two to three weeks is recommended to maintain plant health.

  • sunLight

    Autumn Olive thrives best in full sun to partial shade. Exposure to at least six hours of direct sunlight is ideal for optimum growth and fruit production. It adapts to various light conditions but prefers a sunny spot in the landscape for the best performance.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Autumn Olive is quite cold-hardy and can withstand temperatures down to -15°F, making it suitable for many temperate regions. It can survive in high temperatures but prefers an environment where the temperature ranges from 60°F to 85°F for optimum growth. It's important to avoid planting it in areas prone to late frosts, as this can damage new growth.

  • scissorsPruning

    Autumn Olive should be pruned to maintain its shape and encourage airflow within the canopy. Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This shrub can be pruned annually or as needed to remove dead, damaged, or crossed branches. It can also be pruned heavily to rejuvenate older plants.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Autumn Olive prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. The best soil mix for Autumn Olive should be well-draining with a good amount of organic matter, such as a mix of loam, peat, and sand. Ensuring the soil has proper drainage will avoid waterlogging and root diseases.

  • plantRepotting

    Autumn Olive does not require frequent repotting due to its vigorous root system. It should be repotted every 3 to 5 years, or when it has clearly outgrown its current pot, to ensure continued growth and health of the plant.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Autumn Olive is adaptable to a wide range of humidity conditions and does not have specific humidity requirements. It thrives in both dry and humid environments, making it suitable for various climates without the need for humidity adjustments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Autumn Olive in bright, indirect light inside.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Autumn Olive in sun to partial shade outside.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Elaeagnus umbellata, commonly known as autumn olive, begins its life cycle as a seed, often dispersed by birds that feed on its fruit. Germination follows, which can be erratic and span over multiple years, but typically occurs in the spring when conditions are moist and warm. Seedlings emerge and develop into juvenile plants, which prioritize establishing a strong root system and vegetative growth. As the plant matures, it enters the flowering stage, typically in early to late spring, producing small, fragrant, silvery-to-yellowish flowers that are pollinated by insects. Following pollination, the plant bears red or reddish-orange berries during the late summer to autumn, which are a food source for wildlife and also a mean for seed dispersal. The mature autumn olive is known for its ability to spread rapidly and can live for several decades, during which time it will continue to reproduce annually through seeds in its fruit.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Autumn Olive, scientifically known as Elaeagnus umbellata, is frequently propagated through seeds, which tends to be its most popular method. After the harvest of the red or orange berries in the fall, the seeds can be extracted and cleaned. Stratification, which involves simulating winter conditions by chilling the seeds, is commonly recommended to break the seed dormancy and can be done by mixing the seeds with moist sand and storing them in a refrigerator at approximately 40°F (4.4°C) for 60-90 days. Once stratified, seeds can be sown in the spring into a well-draining soil mix, placed a quarter-inch (about 6 mm) deep. Seedlings usually emerge within two to four weeks and can be nurtured in a protected environment before transplanting to their final location when they are strong enough to withstand the elements.