Botanical name: Elaeagnus umbellata Family: Elaeagnaceae (Oleaster family)
Synonyms: Elaeagnus obovata, Elaeagnus crispa, Elaeagnus parvifolia
Autumn Olive grows as a deciduous shrub or small tree, typically up to 3.5 m tall, with a dense crown. It commonly bears sharp thorns in the form of spur branches. Flowers are fragrant and occur in clusters of white to yellow, 8-9 mm in length and 7 mm in diameter, and have four lobes. The leaves are alternate, 4-10 cm long and 2-4 cm wide with wavy margins, elliptic-oblong to oblong-lanceolate. The leaves are covered with minute silvery scales when they emerge early in spring, but turn greener above as the scales wear off during the summer. The underside is more intensely covered in the silvery scales. The fruit is a small drupe 8-9 mm long, elliptic-ovoid. The unripe fruit is silvery-scaled and yellow. It ripens to red, dotted with silver or brown. The ripe fruits are pulpy, juicy and sweet. Having a sweet and tart flavor, the berries can be eaten fresh or processed for jam, condiments, flavoring, or used as a substitute for tomato. Autumn Olive is common in the Himalayas in dry exposed places from 1000-3300 m. It is also cultivated. Flowering: April-May.
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