Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Elaeagnus angustifolia
(Russian olive)

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Datasheet

Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian olive)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 15 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Elaeagnus angustifolia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Russian olive
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • E. angustifolia, the Russian olive, is one of several species of Elaeagnus that has proven invasive. It is native to temperate Eurasia but has become especially invasive in riverine areas in the wester...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Elaeagnus angustifolia: natural habit, grown with poplars in Inner Mongolia, China.
TitleNatural habit
CaptionElaeagnus angustifolia: natural habit, grown with poplars in Inner Mongolia, China.
CopyrightWang Wenquan
Elaeagnus angustifolia: natural habit, grown with poplars in Inner Mongolia, China.
Natural habitElaeagnus angustifolia: natural habit, grown with poplars in Inner Mongolia, China.Wang Wenquan
Elaeagnus angustifolia: flowers and foliage.
TitleFlowers
CaptionElaeagnus angustifolia: flowers and foliage.
CopyrightWang Wenquan
Elaeagnus angustifolia: flowers and foliage.
FlowersElaeagnus angustifolia: flowers and foliage.Wang Wenquan
Elaeagnus angustifolia: foliage and fruits.
TitleFruit
CaptionElaeagnus angustifolia: foliage and fruits.
CopyrightWang Wenquan
Elaeagnus angustifolia: foliage and fruits.
FruitElaeagnus angustifolia: foliage and fruits.Wang Wenquan
Elaeagnus angustifolia: (a) flowering branch; (b) flower; (c) style; (d) fruit; (e) seeds.
TitlePlant parts
CaptionElaeagnus angustifolia: (a) flowering branch; (b) flower; (c) style; (d) fruit; (e) seeds.
CopyrightWang Wenquan
Elaeagnus angustifolia: (a) flowering branch; (b) flower; (c) style; (d) fruit; (e) seeds.
Plant partsElaeagnus angustifolia: (a) flowering branch; (b) flower; (c) style; (d) fruit; (e) seeds.Wang Wenquan

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Elaeagnus angustifolia L.

Preferred Common Name

  • Russian olive

Variety

  • Elaeagnus angustifolia var. angustifolia L.
  • Elaeagnus angustifolia var. spinosa Scheid

Other Scientific Names

  • Elaeagnus angustifolia var. orientalis (L.) Kuntze
  • Elaeagnus hortensis M. Bieb.
  • Elaeagnus moorcroftii Wall. ex Schltdl.
  • Elaeagnus orientalis L.
  • Eleagnus angustifolius

International Common Names

  • English: autumn olive; Bohemian olive; narrow-leaved oleaster; Russian silverberry; Russian-olive; silver berry; trebizond date
  • Spanish: árbol del paraíso; panjino
  • French: arbre d'argent; chalef; olivier de bohême; olivier sauvage
  • Chinese: guixiangliu; jinlinghua; qilixiang; shazao; xiangliu; yinliu
  • Portuguese: árvore-do-paraíso

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Ölweide; Schmalblaettrige Oelweide; Schmalblättrige Ölweide
  • Italy: eleagno; eleagno balsamico; olivastro; olivo di boemia
  • Netherlands: olijfwilg, smalbladige

EPPO code

  • ELGAN (Elaeagnus angustifolia)

Trade name

  • oleaster
  • Russian olive

Summary of Invasiveness

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E. angustifolia, the Russian olive, is one of several species of Elaeagnus that has proven invasive. It is native to temperate Eurasia but has become especially invasive in riverine areas in the western USA, and is increasingly common in areas already invaded by exotic saltcedars (Tamarix spp.), displacing native vegetation. E. angustifolia has a tendency to spread to areas where it is not desired, necessitating careful monitoring of sites planted with this species as once established, it is difficult to control and nearly impossible to eradicate. It can interfere with agricultural practices, displace native riparian vegetation and choke irrigation ditches. Delaney et al. (2013) has reviewed possible biological control strategies in North America. Vaughan and Mackes (2016) noted that the cost of removal could be defrayed by the sale of wood for artisan use due to its attractive grain and colour.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Elaeagnales
  •                         Family: Elaeagnaceae
  •                             Genus: Elaeagnus
  •                                 Species: Elaeagnus angustifolia

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Elaeagnus is placed in its own family, the Elaeagnaceae, also containing the genera Hippophae and Shepherdia. There are about 80 species within the genus with a wide distribution in eastern Asia (Zheng et al., 2006). The Flora of China recognizes two subspecies var. angustifolia and var. orientalis differing in leaf width (eFloras, 2018).

Description

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E. angustifolia is a tall shrub or small tree up to 15 m tall and 100 cm in diameter, with a dense, rounded crown, olive-shaped fruit and long thorns. The branches are flexible, pubescent (grey and scaly) and often have a short thorn at the end. The bark is brown, thin with shallow fissures, peeling in long strips. It has a deep taproot and well-developed lateral root system. It is deciduous, with alternate, silver-grey petiolate leaves with entire margins in small lateral clusters on twigs of the current year, which vary from 2 to 10 cm long and 1 to 4 cm wide, and leaf shape is generally described as lanceolate to oblong and sometimes elliptic. Fragrant flowers are 3–12 mm long, in small axillary clusters on the twigs of the current year. Fruits are drupe- or berry-like, oval-shaped, 1–2 cm long, and a single, relatively large, 6–13 mm, oblong achene is enclosed in the fleshy fruit. The small, yellow flowers occur in late spring and have a distinctive spicy aroma. The average fruit weight was 0.23 g, whereas the average fruit length and width was 0.97 and 0.64 cm, respectively. Productivity varied with the age of the tree stand. The optimum fruiting was observed in 40-year-old stands, with an average yield of 73.8 kg/ha (Baranov and Kositzyn, 2003).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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E. angustifolia is native to parts of eastern Europe and Asia, and is an important deciduous species of arid and semi-arid areas of northwestern China. It is present in central Europe though the exact western limits of its native range are open to speculation.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
AzerbaijanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
ChinaPresentNative Not invasive CAB Abstracts; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2007; USDA-ARS, 2008
-GansuPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-HebeiPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-HenanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-LiaoningPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Nei MengguPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-NingxiaPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-ShaanxiPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-ShanxiPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-XinjiangPresentNative Not invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNative Not invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
IndiaLocalisedNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008Northwest
IranPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
KazakhstanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
KyrgyzstanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
MongoliaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
PakistanLocalisedNative Not invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008Northeast
TajikistanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
TurkeyPresentNative Not invasive Planted Gokturk et al., 2006
TurkmenistanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
UzbekistanPresentNative Not invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008

North America

BermudaPresentIntroducedKairo et al., 2003Naturalised
CanadaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-AlbertaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-ManitobaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-QuebecPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-SaskatchewanPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
MexicoPresent Planted CABI, 2005
USAWidespreadIntroduced Invasive CAB Abstracts; USDA-ARS, 2008
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-ArizonaPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-ColoradoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-ConnecticutPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2008
-IdahoPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-IowaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-KansasPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-MainePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-MarylandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-MassachusettsPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-MichiganPresentIntroducedCAB Abstracts; USDA-ARS, 2008
-MinnesotaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-MontanaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-NevadaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-New YorkPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-North DakotaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-OhioPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-OklahomaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-OregonPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-South DakotaPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-TennesseePresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-TexasPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-UtahPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-VermontPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-WashingtonPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-West VirginiaPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-WisconsinPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-WyomingPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2008
ChilePresentIntroduced Not invasive Loewe and González, 1999

Europe

BelarusPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
BulgariaPresentIntroduced Invasive Ripka, 2005
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedCWRIS, 2005
Former USSRUnconfirmed recordCAB Abstracts
GermanyPresentIntroducedCWRIS, 2005
ItalyPresentIntroducedCAB Abstracts; CWRIS, 2005
MoldovaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
Russian FederationPresentNative Not invasive CAB Abstracts; USDA-ARS, 2008
-Central RussiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Eastern SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Southern RussiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Western SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
SpainPresentCABI, 2005
UkrainePresent Planted CABI, 2005

Oceania

AustraliaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
-TasmaniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedRoyal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

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It was introduced into the USA in the early 1900s and has become extensively naturalized in riparian areas of western states bordered on the east by North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas (Olson and Knopf, 1986a, b; Shafroth et al., 1995). It became prominent outside cultivated areas in the western USA about 20-50 years after it was introduced, with most recommendations for planting from the early 1900s, and escapes (or naturalization) reported from the 1930s to the 1960s in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Texas, and California (Zouhar, 2005). It also occurs extensively in southern Canada from British Columbia almost to the Atlantic coast, though it was not noted as a species of concern in 1996 (Zouhar, 2005) thus invasiveness has been relatively recent. Based on mean normalized cover, Tamarix ramosissima and E. angustifolia are the second and fifth most dominant woody riparian species in the western USA and whereas the dominance of T. ramosissima has been suspected for decades; the regional ascendance of E. angustifolia, however, has only recently been reported (Friedman et al., 2005).

There are suitable sites in Mexico, though a thorough review of literature found no records of its presence there (Katz and Shafroth, 2003). There are single records for Argentina and Chile and a report of it having escaped and is naturalising (Klich, 2000). Dommergues et al. (1999) notes it as introduced into North Africa and as such it is likely to be more widely distributed than indicated. It is also recorded as invasive in Hawaii, at higher elevations on O’ahu island (PIER, 2008), although the PLANTS database (USDA-NRCS, 2008) does not record it as present in that state. It has become naturalised on Bermuda (Kairo et al., 2003).

Risk of Introduction

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It is a declared B list noxious weed in Colorado and a Class C noxious weed in New Mexico, and is on noxious weed lists on a number of other states where present and invasive, e.g. California, or where not yet invasive, e.g. Connecticut (USDA-NRCS, 2008). Noting its presence on species lists for reforestation, and its value in parts of the native range means it may continue to be introduced. It should also be monitored where introduced but not yet invasive.

Habitat

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E. angustifolia occupies many habitats in its native range, including mountainous areas, plains, sands, and desert. Where introduced, it is commonly found growing along floodplains, river banks, stream courses, marshes and irrigation ditches in the western states of the USA, and in desert or dry (<_st13a_metricconverter _w3a_st="on" productid="150 mm">150 mm annual rainfall) areas of western Asia. It is highly invasive along riverine areas in the western USA. It is also noted as present around oases in North Africa (Dommergues et al., 1999). Vegetation types where it is noted as invasive in the USA include natural forests, natural grasslands, desert scrub and savanna, though a very thorough review is included by Zouhar (2005).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Deserts Present, no further details Natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Reproductive Biology

Flowering mainly takes place in May and June while fruits ripen during August to October. Fruits are retained on trees throughout the winter providing a valuable food source for birds (Bartha and Csiszár, 2008). Flowers are insect pollinated (Zouhar, 2005), and trees produce seed after 3-5 years, with birds and small mammals dispersing them in their droppings. The seeds can remain viable for up to 3 years and are capable of germinating over a broad range of soil types (Knopf and Olson, 1984), and germination is enhanced by stratification in moist sand for 90 days at 41°C (Vines, 1960). It bears few fruits if the annual precipitation is over 400 mm. E. angustifolia is mainly established from seed, although cuttings are used in areas with sufficient moisture. Brock (2003) found that the average number of seeds in the seed bank averaged 336-494 seeds/m2 for five sites assessed, with fresh and viable seeds comprising 63% of the seed bank, with the remaining 37% of seeds considered old and with low or no germination potential.

Physiology and Phenology

E. angustifolia is a fast-growing tree, up to 1.8 m per year, and is nitrogen-fixing. A thorough review by Katz and Shafroth (2003) highlights the ecological characteristics enabling its invasiveness, including an adaptation to semiarid riparian habitats, lack of intense pressure from herbivores, and tolerance of the competitive effects of established vegetation. We believe that the success of this species is at least partly due to its ability to take advantage of the reduced levels of physical disturbance that characterize riparian habitats downstream from dams. Control of E. angustifolia is likely to be most promising where natural river flow regimes remain relatively intact (Katz and Shafroth, 2003).

In Montana, USA, Lesica and Miles (2001) conducted a detailed analysis of E. angustifolia regeneration in invaded riverine areas, concluding that because of its long maturation time and low recruitment rate, invasion there will proceed only slowly compared with many exotics. It occurred in multiple-age stands on terraces along both rivers but was rarely found establishing in recently flood-deposited alluvium, and grew quicker than native species, attaining reproductive maturity at about 10 years of age, and, on average, there was less than one new plant recruited per mature tree per year. Beavers felled a high proportion of native poplars, but E. angustifolia was little damaged. Native riparian forests will be replaced by E. angustifolia as old poplars die on upper terraces or are removed by beavers. Poplar establishment and dominance will not be precluded on rivers where flooding regularly reinitiates primary succession beyond the zone of beaver activity, however, E. angustifolia may preclude poplar recruitment by shading seedlings along streams where flooding does not occur or merely deposits alluvium on top of existing vegetation rather than creating new channels or broad point bars.

Associations

It is a nitrogen-fixing species, in association with Actinomycete fungi, Frankia spp. (Dommergues et al., 1999), that also nodulate Hippophae and Shepherdia, but not by strains that colonize other actinorhizal plants such as Casuarina and Alnus. Inocula is available for Elaeagnus species, although inoculation may not be necessary since most plants spontaneously nodulate in the nursery or upon planting in the field, and unlike Rhizobium, Frankia survive in the soil for long period without the presence of host plants (Baker, 1992). Wei et al. (2017) noted that even under salt stress E. angustifolia has a strong nitrogen fixation ability.

It is a part of several forest types in its native range, including mixed Tamarix-Elaeagnus forests, Elaeagnus-dominated stands, Populus-Elaeagnus woodlands, and Haloxylon woodlands (Zouhar, 2005). Where invasive in western North America, it is commonly found with other exotic invasive species, the saltcedars (Tamarix spp.). Areas invaded are often populated by native poplars (Populus spp., commonly called ‘cottonwoods’ in the USA).

Environmental Requirements

E. angustifolia is a tree of temperature climates with warm summers and cold to very cold winters. According to Bartha and Csiszár (2008) trees can survive frosts of −30°C but some terminal shoot damage may result. Based on simulation studies, Zhang et al. (2018) noted that the dominant climatic factors limiting its potential distribution range in China are annual range of temperature, annual mean temperature, humidity index and coldness index. It is found in a range of environments as it is tolerant of drought and saline, alkaline or infertile soils (Vines, 1960; Olson and Knopf, 1986a, b), having a well-developed root system. It has little preference as to soil type, temperature, or moisture (Zheng et al., 2006). It is commonly found growing along floodplains and where soil water is present such as riverbanks, though it is also found in deserts or dry areas, though it grows slowly if the water table is below 4 m. It is relatively shade-tolerant once established and can withstand competition from other shrubs and trees.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Preferred < 860mm precipitation annually
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
42 35 0 2400

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -40
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 5 9
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 17 27
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -25 -6

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration59number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall100470mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Summer

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • shallow
  • sodic

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aceria angustifoliae Herbivore
Actias selene ningpoana Herbivore
Aecidium elaeagni Pathogen
Apocheima cinerarium Herbivore
Brachynema germarii Herbivore
Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris Pathogen
Capitophorus hippophaes Herbivore
Ceroplastes floridensis Herbivore
Dasorgyia alpherakii Herbivore
Eriogyna pyretorum Herbivore
Euproctis kargalika Herbivore
Halyomorpha halys Herbivore
Hyles euphorbiae Herbivore
Hylesia lineata Herbivore
Lasiodiplodia theobromae Pathogen
Malacosoma parallela Herbivore
Parthenolecanium persicae Herbivore
Phomopsis elaeagni Pathogen
Rhizobium rhizogenes Pathogen
Teia ericae Herbivore
Teia prisca Herbivore
Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis Herbivore
Xylotrechus namanganensis Herbivore

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Zheng et al. (2006) report that 10 fungi have been found on members of the genus Elaeagnus, including Aecidium elaeagni which may be host-specific to Elaeagnus spp. and Septobasidium albidum which has a host range that includes E. umbellata as well as species in other genera. Also, 22 arthropods belonging to 10 families of five orders are reported, and the moth, Teia prisca may be specific to E. angustifolia. All natural enemies are listed along with whether they are known to attack the three main invasive Elaeagnus spp., E. angustifolia, E. pungens and E. umbellata.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Being a riparian species, water is obviously a means of dispersal (Zouhar, 2005) and seeds are reported to remain afloat for up to 36 hours (Lesica and Mills, 2004).

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Birds and small mammals disperse seeds in their droppings after eating the olive-like fruit, and this is likely to be the most important means of dispersal (Baker, 1992). Starlings and raccoon are known to eat the seeds and at least the former do no affect seed viability after digestion (Zouhar, 2005).

Beavers in North America also aid in the establishment of E. angustifolia, though not in the spread of seed, as they selectively cut native poplars and do not damage the exotic invasive thus leaving spaces for E. angustifolia to germinate and grow (Lesica and Miles, 2004).

Intentional Introduction

E. angustifolia was introduced around the world intentionally for a variety of different reasons including as an ornamental, as wildlife habitat, as a honey plant, for erosion control (Katz and Shafroth, 2003), and for reforestation and revegetation.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Water Yes Katz and Shafroth, 2003

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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The costs of controlling E. angustifolia in North American riverine areas are high, though exact figures are not available. In its native range, economic impacts are positive, it being a valuable tree species, especially in northern China. As a valued and widely commercialised ornamental species, it also has a clear positive economic impact as a traded product in the horticultural industry, though no data is available. However, native alternatives are available in all countries where it is introduced and currently sold. Control costs are not available.

Environmental Impact

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It is relatively shade-tolerant once established and can withstand competition from other shrubs and trees, and can become a dominant climax species, replacing native cottonwoods and willows along water courses in the USA. It can also interfere with agricultural practices, displace native riparian vegetation and choke irrigation ditches (Olson and Knopf, 1986a). For a thorough review of environmental impacts in the USA, refer to Katz and Shafroth (2003) and Zouhar (2005). E. angustifolia influences hydrological processes by increasing floodplain roughness in habitats where woody vegetation would otherwise not occur and adding to riverbank stabilization though literature on such effects is limited (Zouhar, 2005). E. angustifolia leaves and leaf litter have higher nitrogen contents than native species and it may thus add substantial amounts of nitrogen to invaded ecosystems. An assessment of the impacts on nesting success by native birds by Stoleson and Finch (2001) found some differences between E. angustifolia and native vegetation in the USA though not significant, and Zouhar (2005) reviews the conflicting effects of E. angustifolia on native wildlife noting that there is no agreed conclusion.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Cirsium wrightii (Wright's marsh thistle)NatureServe NatureServe; USA ESA candidate species USA ESA candidate speciesArizona; New MexicoCompetition (unspecified); Ecosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2015

Social Impact

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The only social impacts are positive, from the aesthetic value as an ornamental species.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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E. angustifolia fruit are olive-shaped yellow drupes that are edible and taste slightly sweet and pleasant to the taste; it is thought to be the wild olive described by writers of Ancient Greek. The fruit is apparently sold in Turkish markets as “ighide agaghi”. The fruit is consumed fresh and dried in Turkey, Iran and Greece and is used for making alcoholic drinks or preserves such as marmalade. The flowers are used for flavouring liquors (Bartha and Csiszár, 2008Janick and Paull, 2008).

E. angustifolia has values as an ornamental, and for landscaping, wildlife, revegetation and mine reclamation, though it is not a major source of raw materials where introduced. Although short lived it is a useful landscaping tree for its foliage colour especially useful for hedging (Gilman and Watson, 1993). E. angustifolia has been widely planted in shelterbelts, windbreaks or protective plantings as it is hardy, adaptable to a wide range of soil and moisture conditions and has a dense growth form (Brothers, 1988). It has also been used to revegetate land contaminated by paper mill wastewater (Wagner et al., 1994), potassium (Heinze and Liebmann, 1998), bentonite (Uresk and Yamamoto, 1994), and mine spoilings, and as a bioindicator of heavy metal pollution (Aksoy and Sahin, 1999).

The timber is hard and brownish-yellow with a beautiful grain, being similar to that of white elm (Ulmus pumila, Ulmus americana). It can be used to make farm tools, furniture, mining poles and civil construction, and makes a good fuel and useful fenceposts (Zohar, 2005). The tree is considered a good source for bee foraging. The leaves, shoots, flowers, fruits and bark have been traditionally used in Chinese medicine. Foliage, however, has low palatability for most livestock, though young leaves may be browsed (Zouhar, 2005).

All parts of the tree are used in ethnomedicine to treat a range of conditions. It has a range of activities including astringent, antitussive, antiinflammatory and carminative and well as beneficial effects on joint and arthritic pain, and wound healing. It has also been used as a female aphrodisiac, a liver and spleen tonic, a treatment for diarrhoea, osteoporosis and stomach problems (Farzaei et al., 2015).. Scientific studies on its pharmacological uses have been reviewed by Farzaei et al. (2015) and Hamidpour et al. (2017). Clinical studies on the therapeutic applications of fruit extracts for the treatment of osteoarthritis are reviewed by Mahboubi (2018). Its efficacy is comparable to acetaminophen (1000 mg/day) and ibuprofen (1200 mg/day) with no side effects. The antiinflammatory effects result in the inhibition of TNF-α, COX-1, COX-2 and IL-1β, and induction of cytokines. Saleh et al. (2018) investigated the activity of floral extracts on human oral cancer cell lines FaDu and SCC25. Angiogenesis and cell proliferation was markedly inhibited.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Ornamental
  • Revegetation
  • Shade and shelter
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil improvement
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Windbreak

Fuels

  • Fuelwood

General

  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base
  • Fruits
  • Honey/honey flora

Materials

  • Essential oils
  • Fibre
  • Gum/resin
  • Wood/timber

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Wood Products

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Pulp

  • Short-fibre pulp

Roundwood

  • Posts

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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It has a superficial resemblance to another invasive species, E. umbellata, though they can be separated. The other two genera within the Elaeagnaceae, Hippophae and Shepherdia are also nitrogen fixing, and are very similar to Elaeagnus in general appearance and growth habits (Baker, 1992).

Prevention and Control

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Control

Control is difficult once E. angustifolia trees are mature and populations are well-established, or may even be nearly impossible to eradicate, though Zouhar (2005) thoroughly review management and control methods employed in the USA, which are largely adapted and reported here. Mowing seedlings, cutting, burning, spraying (Diesburg, 1994; Geyer and Long, 1994), girdling and bulldozing have all been attempted, although cutting, followed by either spraying or burning the stumps is the most effective (Olson and Knopf, 1986b).

Cultural control and sanitary measures

Zouhar (2005) suggested that it is unlikely that exotic species will be eradicated from riparian systems in the south-west USA, and that it is also unlikely that simply removing exotics would allow natives to thrive where conditions no longer favour them. Thus, if a return to natural, sustainable conditions may not be possible then it may be necessary to design management techniques such as timed interval flooding and artificial seedbeds, to maintain riparian function. In conclusion for the south-west USA, managing for native species may be more successful than managing against exotic species. Promotion of natural processes such as natural flooding regimes may be important in managing for desirable native species. However, removal of E. angustifolia may only facilitate recovery of native species where natural disturbance processes still function adequately (Zouhar, 2005). On dammed, regulated rivers and areas with intensive livestock grazing, removal or suppression of E. angustifolia will only have temporary effects unless native species are established. Elimination of the stresses such as high salinity and reduced stream flows, that favour exotic plants over native plants may be necessary if native plant communities are to be sustained (Zouhar, 2005).

Physical/mechanical control

Hand-pulling and other manual methods have been attempted with limited success in Arizona, USA (Landis et al., 2006), and ring-barking will also kill older trees (Zouhar, 2005). Also, techniques such as mowing, cutting, girdling, chaining, and bulldozing can suppress E. angustifolia. However, disadvantages can be substantial, including the need for frequent treatment repetition, indiscriminate removal of other species, and severe soil disturbance.

Biological control

CABI initiated a biological control programme against E. angustifolia in 2007, with the primary focus on species that impact the reproductive output without affecting standing trees, due the potential conflict of interest (Weyl et al., 2017). Of the three species currently under study, the Eriophyid mite, Aceria angustifoliae, is the most promising agent with a high level of specificity and preliminary studies suggest a high impact on fruit and ultimately seed production (Weyl et al., 2017). However, to date no biological control agents have been released against this species.

Chemical control

Herbicides may be effective in gaining initial control of a new invasion or a severe infestation but are rarely a complete or long-term solution to weed management, and herbicides that have been reported as effective at controlling E. angustifolia to varying degrees include glyphosate, imazapyr, triclopyr, picloram, and 2,4-D (Zouhar, 2005).

Foliar spraying of herbicide has proved successful in some cases although the long-term response is unclear and this approach may be neither feasible nor desirable in many riparian settings, though small seedlings are killed with foliar applications of picloram + 2,4-D. Triclopyr ester is an effecting cut stump treatment if applied within 5 minutes of cutting and on smaller trees, otherwise repeated follow-up passes are required, though stem injections is a useful complement (Zouhar, 2005).

Control by utilization

Noting its high value in China and elsewhere in Asia, it may be wise to look in more detail as the uses of this species, in order to assess if there may be any possibility of control by utilization.

Monitoring and Surveillance

As control of E. angustifolia is difficult once trees are mature, so early detection and rapid response are important, and awareness and prevention are probably the most effective tools for managing against it. Ecological niche modelling also holds promise for the development of control and eradication strategies and for risk assessment for species invasions, including E. angustifolia (Peterson et al., 2003). Although, it is clear that a considerable level of research effort has been applied to woody stemmed, exotic/weed species ecology, an approach involving close coupling between classical mathematical species competition models (Lotka-Volterra) and field management predictive capability may provide a useful first approximation (Chant and Chant, 2004).

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18/01/18 Updated by:

Philip Weyl, CABI, Delémont, Switzerland 

29/02/2008 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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