Sunday, September 9, 2012


Autumn olive - Eleagnus umbellata

Autumn-olive is not Russian olive. There endeth the lesson.

At least there ended mine, a few years ago. Autumn-olive is Elaeagnus umbellata. And the autumn-olive (why the hyphen? No clue) fruit is perfectly round and red with silver flecks (occasionally yellow with silver flecks). It is beginning to ripen now, in these parts.

Russian olive - Eleagnus angustifolia

Russian olive is Elaeagnus angustifolia, above. Called oleaster in Europe.

Many people confuse the two. I used to, too. But Russian olive is an elongated oval, and greeny-yellow. Mealy rather than juicy. The fruit of both are technically drupes, as the pit is on the inside, surrounded by flesh. They are mini stone fruit - like peaches, apricots, cherries.

Both are edible. Both are highly invasive. Neither is related to the olives we brine and cure in oil. That is Olea europea.

Autumn-olive jam

But the autumn-olive is dee-licious. If you like red currants.

Read more about autumn-olives and how to eat them in my article for Edible Manhattan. In print now or online.

Oh - and this didn't make it into the Edible piece because my editor didn't want to bore the pants off readers, BUT. There is an Elaeagnus from these American shores: Elaeagnus commutata, or silverberry. So there. I have never tasted it. Most reports say that is is dryish and mealy.


  1. I had no idea these were different, and I had no idea they are edible!

    Did you know you can eat the fruit of the Kousa dogwood? It's quite tasty! (I don't think it would make good jam).

  2. Until ow I had no idea they even existed.

    Autumn-olives that is.

    Off to be educated.

    xo Jane

  3. And the honey bees love autumn olive flowers! They are sweet-scented, a little daphne-like on the wind. I have not seen them on Russian olive flowers but know from research that they forage on those too. It is interesting to follow bee flowers and track, not just the bees, but the controversies surrounding what they forage on. Spotted knapweed, Japanese knotweed, autumn olive.... Oy. A hornet's nest! :)

  4. Ah, a funny story. Before we left for Minnesota, we were at the beach farm. Lots of olives out there. The national park ranger comes up, lookin all official in his greens, his hat and shades. After a turn, he asks ME if he can cut that olive down. I said, of course, it's invasive olive. Really, he says. so I can get rid of it? Yup, sure, I mean your the park ranger, right?

    Of course, I haven't checked for autumn or Russian, but maybe the rangers responsible for landscape management should read your blog.

  5. Fantastic as Jam. I made some last week
    Vee in England


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