Oleaster (Elaeagnus angustifolia)

Shrub
E. argentea. non Pursh. E. hortensis.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Oleaster
Elaeagnus angustifolia
Elaeagnaceae

Plants can be grown as a hedge in exposed positions[29], tolerating maritime exposure[200]. It is fairly fast-growing and very tolerant of pruning, but is rather open in habit and does not form a dense screen[K]. Because the plant fixes atmospheric nitrogen, it makes a hedge that enriches the soil rather than depriving it of nutrients[K].

An essential oil obtained from the flowers is used in perfumery[74].

A gum from the plant is used in the textile industry in calico printing[74].

Wood – hard, fine-grained. Used for posts, beams, domestic items[74, 100], it is also much used for carving[245]. The wood is an excellent fuel[74, 146].

  • Medicinal Use

    The oil from the seeds is used with syrup as an electuary in the treatment of catarrh and bronchial affections[240].

    The juice of the flowers has been used in the treatment of malignant fevers[240].

    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 as a seasoning in soups[1, 2, 3, 100, 146, 74]. Dry, sweet and mealy[11, 145, 183]. The fruit can also be made into jellies or sherbets[183]. The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent[K]. The oval fruit is about 10mm long[200] and contains a single large seed[K].

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

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[78]. It should germinate in late winter or early spring, 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. Difficult[113]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 10 – 12cm with a heel, October/November in a frame[200]. The cuttings are rather slow and difficult to root, leave them for 12 months[113]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78]. Root cuttings in the winter[200].
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils that are well-drained[200], though it dislikes shallow chalk soils[98]. Prefers a light sandy soil that is only moderately fertile[11], succeeding in poor soils and dry soils[11, 200]. Requires a position in full sun, growing very well in hot dry positions[182]. Plants are very drought and wind resistant[1, 166, 200], they tolerate conditions of considerable salinity and alkalinity[227]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -40¡c[184]. However, plants prefer a continental climate[49] and are apt to be cut back in severe winters in Britain because the summer is often not warm enough to have fully ripened the wood[1]. A very variable species[214]. This species is often cultivated in N. Europe for its edible fruits, there are many named varieties and some of these are thornless[214]. 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[160, 200]. An excellent companion plant, when grown in orchards it can increase yields from the fruit trees by up to 10%. Plants are very tolerant of pruning, they usually resprout freely even when cut right back to the ground. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[88, 200]. The flowers are sweetly and heavily scented[184].
Europe to W. Asia, extending as far north as latitude 55¡ in Russia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*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.