Elaeagnus angustifolia L. - Russian olive, oleaster.

Taxonomic position.

Family Elaeagnaceae Juss., genus Elaeagnus L.


E. hortensis Bieb.

Morphology and biology.

Tree, up to 10 m tall, or spinescent shrub. Older branches are reddish brown, glossy. Young shoots are silvery. Leaves are alternate, simple, lanceolate, 2-9 cm long and 0.4-2.5 cm wide, grey-green from above and silvery from below because of squamulose coating. Flowers are campaniform, yellow, very fragrant. Fruit are round or slightly elongated, 7-15 mm long and 5-10 mm wide, silvery; ripe fruit are yellow, yellow-brown or pure brown with sweet pulp. Blossoms in June; bears fruit in August-September. Entomophilous. Propagated by seed, layers, roots or softwood cuttings. 2n=12, 28.


Mediterranean and Central Asian species. As a wild plant, it grows in the Caucasus (Eastern Transcaucasia), Central Asia (Zaisan Lake Hollow, basin of the Black Irtysh, Fergana Valley, Southern Kyrghyzstan, etc.), the Mediterranean region, Asia Minor, Iran, China and the Himalayas. In Southern Russia, Moldova and Ukraine, the species was introduced and now runs wild.


Mesoxerophyte. Photophilous. Salt-resistant. Gas-resistant. Grows on sands and pebbles along riverbanks, less frequently in gullies and steppes, as well as in riparian woodlands of Central Asia from the plains to the middle mountain zone.

Utilization and economic value.

Food, tanning and ornamental. Has long been cultivated in the Caucasus and in Central Asia. Fruit provide a valuable food substance. They are consumed fresh or processed as compotes and confectionaries. Bark and leaves contain tanning agents applied in leather tanning. Flowers contain oil useful for the fragrance industry. Gum obtained by boxing is used to produce paints for printing trades and dyes for the textile industry. This species may be used to make various types of shelterbelt re-forestation, especially on soils prone to wind and water erosion.


Brezhnev, D.D., Korovina, O.N. 1981. Wild relatives of cultivated plants in the flora of the USSR. Leningrad: Kolos, p. 327 (in Russian).
Grossgeim, A.A. 1962. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 6. Moscow/Leningrad: Publishing House of the USSR Academy of Sciences, p. 224 (in Russian).
Koropachinskiy, I.Yu., Vstovskaya, T.N. 2002. Woody plants of the Asian part of Russia. Novosibirsk: Publishing House of SB RAS, Branch "Geo", p. 514-515 (in Russian).

© I.G. Chukhina


Web design —
Kelnik studios