Elaeagnus (Elaeagnus x ebbingei)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Elaeagnus x ebbingei

Plants can be grown as a hedge in very exposed positions, tolerating maritime exposure. The plants provide a very good protection from the wind, they are very resistant to damage by salt winds and are also tolerant of regular trimming[75]. They have a strong vigorous growth and are faster growing than E. macrophylla[75, 200]. Because they fix atmospheric nitrogen, they make good companion plants and improve the growth of neighbouring species[K]. They can be planted in the line of an old shelterbelt of trees that is becoming bare at the base and will in time fill up the empty spaces and climb into the bottom parts of the trees[K].

  • Medicinal Use

    The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers[214].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[177]. A reasonable size, it is about 20mm long and 13mm wide although it does have a large seed[K]. The fully ripe fruit has a very rich flavour and makes pleasant tasting with a slight acidity[K]. The fruit should be deep red in colour and very soft when it is fully ripe, otherwise it will be astringent[K]. The flavour improves further if the fruit is stored for a day or two after being picked. The fruit ripens intermittently over a period of about 6 weeks from early to mid April until May[K].

    Seed – raw or cooked. It can be eaten with the fruit though the seed case is rather fibrous[K]. The taste is vaguely like peanuts[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – this is a hybrid and it will not breed true from seed. If this is not a problem, then the seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[78]. It should germinate freely within 4 weeks, though it may take 18 months[K]. Stored seed can be very slow to germinate, often taking more than 18 months. A warm stratification for 4 weeks followed by 12 weeks cold stratification can help[98]. The seed usually (eventually) germinates quite well[78]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pot as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out when they are at least 15cm tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Rather slow, but you usually get a good percentage rooting[78]. June is the best time to take cuttings[202]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 10 – 12cm with a heel, November in a frame. Leave for 12 months. Fair to good percentage[78]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78].
A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[11, 200]. Prefers a soil that is only moderately fertile, succeeding in poor soils and in dry soils[11, 200]. A drought resistant plant once established, it can be grown on top of Cornish hedges (drystone walls with earth between two vertical layers of stones). It is very tolerant of shade and grows well under trees[200]. Plants are very tolerant of maritime exposure, growing well right by the coast[K]. Plants are hardy to about -20¡c, but they can be deciduous in very cold winters[200]. Fruiting as it does in early April to May, this plant has excellent potential as a commercial fruit crop in Britain. The fruit is of a reasonable size and when fully ripe is very acceptable for dessert[K]. It should be fairly easy to selectively breed for improved fruit size and flavour[K]. Not all plants bear many fruits, though many specimens have been seen that produce very heavy crops on a regular basis[K]. Since this is a hybrid species, yields may be improved by growing a selection of cultivars or one of the parent plants nearby for cross pollination. E. pungens is perhaps the best candidate for this and its cultivar E. pungens ‘Variegata’ has been seen on a number of occasions with good crops of fruit next to E. x ebbingei plants that are also laden with fruit[K]. The cultivar E. x ebbingei ‘Gilt Edge’ is also probably a good pollinator[K]. Other cultivars worth looking at are ‘Salcombe Seedling’, which is said to flower more abundantly than the type[200] and ‘Limelight’, which has been seen with a good crop of fruits even on small bushes[K]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%. Plants produce very aromatic flowers in late autumn and early winter[182]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. Sometimes whole branches die out for no apparent reason. This happens most frequently when it is grafted onto E. multiflora[182]. These branches should be removed from the plant.
A garden hybrid, E. macrophylla x E. pungens or E. x. reflexa.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.