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Datasheet

Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Elaeagnus umbellata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • autumn olive
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • E. umbellata is a deciduous shrub which has been introduced from its native Asia to Europe and North America for revegetation, wildlife cover and environmental benefits, but in many areas it has escaped and bec...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Natural habit of E. umbellata growing on coastal sand dunes, around 1.5 m tall. Tottori, Japan.
TitleHabit
CaptionNatural habit of E. umbellata growing on coastal sand dunes, around 1.5 m tall. Tottori, Japan.
CopyrightNorikazu Yamanaka
Natural habit of E. umbellata growing on coastal sand dunes, around 1.5 m tall. Tottori, Japan.
HabitNatural habit of E. umbellata growing on coastal sand dunes, around 1.5 m tall. Tottori, Japan.Norikazu Yamanaka
Fruit and foliage of E. umbellata. Tottori, Japan.
TitleFruit and foliage
CaptionFruit and foliage of E. umbellata. Tottori, Japan.
CopyrightNorikazu Yamanaka
Fruit and foliage of E. umbellata. Tottori, Japan.
Fruit and foliageFruit and foliage of E. umbellata. Tottori, Japan.Norikazu Yamanaka

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb.

Preferred Common Name

  • autumn olive

Other Scientific Names

  • Elaeagnus crispa Thunb.
  • Elaeagnus crispa var. praematura Koidz.
  • Elaeagnus longipes var. crispa (Thunb.) K.
  • Elaeagnus padifolia K.Koch
  • Elaeagnus parvifolia Wall. ex Royle
  • Elaeagnus umbellata var. nakaiana Araki
  • Elaeagnus umbellata var. parvifolia (Wall. ex Royle) C. K. Schneid.

International Common Names

  • English: autumn berry; autumn elaeagnus; oleaster; spreading oleaster
  • Spanish: fresa de otoño; fresa japonesa; fresa plateada
  • French: oléastre réfléchi
  • Chinese: niu naizi; qiu hu tui zi

Local Common Names

  • Dominican Republic: fresa japonesa; fresa plateada
  • Germany: Ölweide, Doldige
  • Japan: aki-gumi
  • USA: autumnberry

EPPO code

  • ELGUM (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Summary of Invasiveness

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E. umbellata is a deciduous shrub which has been introduced from its native Asia to Europe and North America for revegetation, wildlife cover and environmental benefits, but in many areas it has escaped and become naturalised and invasive especially in disturbed sites and areas near cultivation. Due to its high seed production and high germination rates, this species has the potential to rapidly colonize new areas. Additionally, it is a hardy, nitrogen-fixing species that resprouts quickly after burning or cutting. This species has become particularly invasive in central and northeastern states of the USA and it is beginning to spread across Europe. Currently, E. umbellata is considered one of the most troublesome invasive plants in central and eastern USA (USDA-NRCS, 2016). It is related to other invasive species Elaeagnus angustifolia and Elaeagnus pungens, the former being a serious weed in western North America.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Elaeagnaceae is a small family of flowering plants including just 3 genera (Elaeagnus,Hippophae and Shepherdia) and about 45 species of thorny and mostly deciduous shrubs and trees native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Malesia and Australia (Zheng et al., 2006; Stevens, 2012). All genera are associated with nitrogen-fixing actinomycetes of the genus Frankia in their roots (Stevens, 2012).

Description

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E. umbellata is a deciduous shrub 2-4 (-5) m tall and 10 cm in diameter with slender, spreading branches, more or less spiny with thorns about 2.5 cm long. The bark is removable in longitudinal strips exposing the white hardwood underneath. An important distinguishing characteristic is that shoots and young branches are clothed with very attractive white silvery scales (lepidote), but which disappear with the rains. Leaves in clusters, elliptic to ovate-oblong, 4-8 cm long and 1-2 (-2.5) cm wide, upper surface sparsely white and covered with small scaly leaves (lepidote), lower surface densely white lepidote, apex acute to sometimes obtuse, petioles 0.5-1 cm long, densely white lepidote. Fragrant flowers appear in bunches of 1-7 in axillary umbels, white to light yellow, 8-9 mm long and 7 mm in diameter, perianth densely scaled, four-lobed; androecium comprising 4 stamens, very small, attached to the mouth of the corolla tube; gynoecium, simple, with one pistil, its average length being 7 mm, pedicels 3-6 (-8) mm long, elongating up to 12 mm long in fruit; hypanthium slender, gradually narrowed at base, 5-7 mm long; calyx lobes narrowly ovate, ca 3-5 mm long. Fruits, ovoid to globose, 3-9 mm long and 5 mm broad; epicarp, thin, covering the whole fruit; mesocarp, pulpy and juicy; pedicel, 5-6 mm long; freshly picked fruits, coral pink, seeds, 7-8 mm long and 2-3 mm in diameter, saffron yellow and approximately 26 mg in weight. Adapted from PIER (2008) and Parmar and Kaushal (1982).

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Tree
Woody

Distribution

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E. umbellata is native to tropical and temperate Asia, from Afghanistan to Japan, traversing northern India and northern China. It is sympatric with other Elaeagnus species such as E. angustifolia, but tends to occupy different habitats. It has been introduced in North America, Europe, and Australia (USDA-ARS, 2016). 

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
BhutanPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
CambodiaPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
ChinaPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-AnhuiPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-FujianPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-GansuPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-GuizhouPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-HebeiPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-HubeiPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-JiangsuPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-JiangxiPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-LiaoningPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-Nei MengguPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-NingxiaPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-QinghaiPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-ShaanxiPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-ShandongPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-ShanxiPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-SichuanPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-TibetPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-YunnanPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-ZhejiangPresentNative Not invasive Natural CABI, 2005
IndiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-ManipurPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
JapanPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-HokkaidoPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-HonshuPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-KyushuPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
-ShikokuPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
Korea, DPRPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
Korea, Republic ofPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
LaosPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
MyanmarPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
NepalPresentNativePlanted, Natural
PakistanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2008
TaiwanPresentNative Not invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
ThailandPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005
VietnamPresentPlanted, NaturalCABI, 2005

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-AlbertaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2016
-OntarioPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
-SaskatchewanPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2016
USAPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted, NaturalUSDA-ARS, 2008
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-ConnecticutPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-FloridaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted PIER, 2008Hawaii (Big) island
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-IowaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-KansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008; USDA-ARS, 2008
-KentuckyPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MainePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MarylandPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-MassachusettsPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-MichiganPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MississippiPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-MissouriPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MontanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-NebraskaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-New HampshirePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-New YorkPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-OhioPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-South CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-TennesseePresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-VermontPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-NRCS, 2016
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2008
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008
-WisconsinPresentIntroduced Invasive Planted USDA-ARS, 2008

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentIntroducedCABI, 2005; Christenhusz, 2009Naturalized
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Mir, 2012

Europe

BelgiumPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2016
FrancePresentIntroduced Invasive Drénou and Paulus, 2004; DAISIE, 2016
HungaryPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2016
ItalyPresentIntroduced Invasive CABI, 2005; DAISIE, 2016
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedChristenhusz and Uffelen, 2001Sometimes naturalised
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2016
UKPresent Planted CABI, 2005
-ScotlandPresentIntroducedDAISIE, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
-VictoriaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2008
GuamPresentIntroduced Not invasive PIER, 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

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E. umbellata was introduced intentionally to temperate regions in Europe and North America. It was first introduced to the UK in 1829 (Bean, 1973). It was introduced into the USA in 1830 from China and Japan (Sather and Eckardt, 2001). It has been actively promoted by state and federal agencies for shelter belts, erosion control, strip mine reclamation, wildlife habitat, and was widely marketed as an ornamental. The shrub has now become a noxious weed and invasive species in many states from the east coast to the central prairies. This species is also spreading across Europe.  Currently it is listed as invasive in France, Italy, Belgium and the Azores (Christenhusz and Uffelen, 2001). It does not appear to be invasive in the UK, where it was not recorded in the wild until nearly 150 years after introduction, and did not naturally regenerate in trials where it was used as a nurse plant for walnut (Clark et al., 2008). In Costa Rica it can be found naturalized and spreading in disturbed sites, thickets, and along roadsides (Christenhusz, 2009). 

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of new introductions of E. umbellata is very high. This species is listed as invasive in the USA (USDA-NRCS, 2008) and Europe (DAISIE, 2016) and it also received a high score in a weed risk assessment for the Pacific (PIER, 2008). It could become an invasive weed in other temperate areas where it is not yet present, such as parts of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America. Further introductions in Europe should also be monitored, as well as habitats at risk where already present.

Habitat

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In its native range, E. umbellata can be found in thickets, sparse woods, forest edges, hillside wastelands, riversides and seashores in subtropical and temperate regions of Japan, Korea and China at elevations of 20 to 3000 m. It is common in humid temperate areas with 1000-4000 mm annual rainfall in Japan, but it can grow even in semi-arid areas of Nei Menggu, Gansu and Shaanxi, China, where annual rainfall is around 400 mm.

Outside its native range, it can be found naturalized in disturbed sites, thickets, along roads and also planted in gardens and parks (Christenhusz, 2009; USDA-NRCS, 2016). In North America, typical habitats include disturbed areas, roadsides, pastures and fields and it invades grasslands and sparse woodlands, pine plantations, ravines, grazed upland oak forest, and the edge of hill prairies in Illinois and central USA (Ebinger and Lehnen, 1981; Owens and Cole, 2003). In New England, USA, it is found on abandoned fields, abandoned gravel pits, early-successional forest, pasture, planted forest, railways, roadsides, paths, urban areas, and is probably most prolific on disturbed or ruderal sites (Munger, 2003). In southern Ontario, Canada, it is found in dry to mesic sandy, forested and open to sparsely shaded habitats, though is most invasive in areas of dry sandy soils and is generally not invasive on fine-textured, periodically wet soils (Catling et al., 1997). Its shade tolerance is disputed, being reported various as shade intolerant or tolerant, though it appears that it has at least some ability to establish under a forest canopy but is not well-adapted to low light conditions as it is generally absent from dense forest and restricted to open-canopy areas (Munger, 2003). PIER (2008) noted it as dominating in almost any landscape type, from fencerows to meadows to open woods, even sand dunes and mine spoils. Munger (2003) noted special risks for natural communities of sandy, infertile habitats throughout the Great Lakes region.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal dunes Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural
Deserts Present, no further details Natural
Natural 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
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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E. umbellata is known to invade pine plantations in the USA.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Pinus (pines)PinaceaeUnknown

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for E. umbellata is 2n = 28 (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016). A study by Sabir and Riaz (2005) on E. umbellata populations in northern Pakistan found significant variations in morphological, biochemical and elemental characters, suggesting that variations will be greater still across the entire native range.

Reproductive Biology

E. umbellata flowers are bisexual, fragrant, and open-pollinated often by insects. Mature trees producing about 14 kg of fruit per annum, equivalent to 1.4 kg or 66,000 seeds (Munger, 2003) though PIER (2008) notes production up to 200,000 seeds per year and other reports from the USA suggest rates even higher. Fruiting begins at 3-5 years old under favourable conditions such as full sunlight and adequate moisture. Germination in the USA is much reduced with less than two months of cold temperatures, and is optimum with 4-5 months of cold (Munger, 2003).

Physiology and Phenology

E. umbellata is a relatively shade intolerant pioneer tree, and in its native range in northern India, flowering occurs in April and fruiting in July-August though this varies with the altitude (Parmar and Kaushal, 1982). In China, it produces flowers from April to May and fruits from July to August (Flora of China, 2016). In the United States (central and southern Appalachian regions), fruit ripens in August and September. Fruit generally remains on the plant until late winter. This species generally produces leaves in early spring, prior to most native plants, for example it is one of the first shrubs to break dormancy in Illinois, putting out foliage from mid-March (Munger, 2003).

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).

Environmental Requirements

E. umbellata is a tree of humid temperate climates, tolerant of a broad rainfall range from 400 to 4000 mm per annum though it can only tolerate a short dry season. Native to central Asia, it can tolerate very high summer temperature and low winter temperatures.

It grows well on a variety of soils including sandy, loamy, and somewhat clayey soils that are moderate acid or alkaline (pH 4.8-6.5), though prefers deep, relatively coarse-textured soils that are moderately to well-drained. It exhibits some drought tolerance, though does not grow well on very wet or dry sites, nor shallow or poorly drained soils. It does do very well on infertile soils because of its nitrogen-fixing ability. Its shade tolerance is disputed, being reported various as shade intolerant or tolerant, though it appears that it has at least some ability to establish under a forest canopy but is not well-adapted to low light conditions as it is generally absent from dense forest and restricted to open-canopy areas. It does not do well on wet sites or in densely forested areas (Munger, 2003). 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Tolerated < 860mm precipitation annually
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated 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)
46 -25 0 3100

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 14 28
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 27 38
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -9 20

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration03number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall4004000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Anoplophora chinensis
Archips fuscocupreanus
Drosophila suzukii
Halyomorpha halys

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The species-specific rust Aecidium elaeagni-umbellatae was found attacking E. umbellata in China (Huang et al., 2004). This and further pests and pathogens from the native range could be tested as biocontrol agents. 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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Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Seeds are spread widely by birds (PIER, 2008), and to a lesser extent by small mammals (Munger, 2003). Munger (2003) also list species known to eat E. umbellata in the USA, including many birds (grey catbirds, hermit thrushes, wood thrushes, house finches, American robins, cardinals, cedar waxwings, common grackles, evening grosbeaks, fox sparrows, house sparrows, song sparrows, white-throated sparrows, mockingbirds, myrtle warblers, purple finches, rufus-sided towhees, starlings, tree swallows, veerys, northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse, mourning doves, ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys and mallards), raccoons, skunks, opossums, and black bears, and it is also browsed by white-tailed deer.

Intentional Introduction

Long distance dispersal of E. umbellata has been due entirely to its intentional introduction for perceived environmental benefits.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Digestion and excretion Yes Munger, 2003
Disturbance Yes Munger, 2003
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Munger, 2003
Habitat restoration and improvement Yes Munger, 2003
Hedges and windbreaksOrnamental, hedge plant Yes Yes Munger, 2003
Internet salesSeeds sold online Yes Yes
Landscape improvementOrnamental, hedge plant Yes Yes Munger, 2003
Medicinal useUsed in traditional medicine Yes Yes USDA-NRCS, 2016
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes Munger, 2003
People foragingFruits used to make jelly Yes Christenhusz, 2009

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds escaped from cultivation Yes USDA-NRCS, 2016
Land vehicles Yes USDA-NRCS, 2016
LivestockSeeds are eaten by animals Yes USDA-NRCS, 2016
Machinery and equipmentSeeds Yes USDA-NRCS, 2016

Impact Summary

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

Economic Impact

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In Ontario, Canada, use of E. umbellata as a nurse tree for walnut had mixed effects, as analysis found “generally better walnut growth when interplanted with other woody species, but autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), the species that stimulated the best walnut growth, grew invasively throughout the study area, thus ruling it out as a nurse species” (Pedlar et al., 2006). Costs for control are not known.

Environmental Impact

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E. umbellata grows vigorously and is competitive against native species, growing rapidly into impenetrable, thorny thickets, suppressing and/or displacing native and/or more valuable species and supplanting native habitat. Due to nitrogen-fixation, it can affect nitrogen cycling and availability in soils (Baer et al., 2006), and this may adversely effect native communities that may depend on infertile soils. There are also probable allelopathic effects from leaf litter on emergence of seedling of native tree seedlings in central USA (Orr et al., 2005).

Many studies have been undertaken in Illinois, USA. Woody plant invasions including E. umbellata, Rosa multiflora and Ulmus pumila exceeded 6500 stems/ha in successional old fields, and greater than 16,500 stems/ha in sown tallgrass prairie (Zimmerman et al., 1993), with Munger (2003) presenting data showing E. umbellata densities of 5225 stems/ha in pine plantations, increasing to almost 34,000 33,975 stems/ha in a hardwood ravine and almost 68,000 stems/ha in an oak (Quercus spp.) forest. Densities of 125,000 stem/ha were recorded in the understorey of a yellow-poplar-sweetgum plantation from nearby plantings in the early 1970s (Munger, 2003). Yates et al. (2004) found densities of three invasive plants, E. umbellata, Lonicera japonica and Rosa multiflora were up to 180,000 stems/ha, but only E. umbellata was established in both interior and edges of study sites and as such, E. umbellata posed the most ecological damage because it is well established throughout and should be given a high priority when implementing management and control efforts.

Social Impact

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The only social impacts are positive, such as 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
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Has high genetic variability
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 forestry
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Transportation disruption
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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E. umbellata can fix nitrogen and it is tolerant to salt winds, this species is therefore used for fixation of coastal sand dunes in Japan, and is frequently planted mixed with Pinus thunbergii as a soil improving tree. E. umbellata is also planted in eroded areas of mountainous zones to re-establish and develop vegetation. In China it is occasionally cultivated in gardens (Zhang, 1997). The wood is not valuable. The fruits are sweet to acidic and are good to eat along with its seeds, having a good keeping quality and can be stored up to 15 days at room temperature, rich in protein and their use should be encouraged. The fruit are eaten in India, with a single bush yielding about 650 g of fruits in 2-3 pickings (Parmar and Kaushal, 1982). Medicinal products are used in China to treat asthma, diarrhoea (Uehara, 1977), and other plant parts having various additional uses such as pulmonary infections and in cardiac ailments.

E. umbellata was being promoted in North America until recently for the purpose of attracting wildlife, and due to its drought and disease resistance and tolerance of poor soil, it has also been widely planted on poor sites and roadsides to prevent soil erosion. It is also being promoted as a possible source of pharmaceutical compounds, as the edible fruit is exceptionally high in the antioxidant carotenoid lycopene and several other carotenoids, and lycopene has been associated with prevention of certain chronic diseases including prostate cancer (Fordham et al., 2003). Naturalised populations were assessed for their potential to supply fruit for nutraceutical use and could be a commercially viable crop, especially on low-fertility and sandy soils that may be unsuitable for other agricultural uses (Black et al., 2005). The plant is very ornamental because of its silvery foliage and flowers. It is a very hardy plant and grows successfully under dry conditions. It can therefore, be planted as a protective hedge around fields as a well as around houses and gardens.

E. umbellata has been promoted as a beneficial wildlife species and was widely planted in wildlife management areas in the USA as an important wildlife food during periods of seasonal food scarcity, fruits consumed by a variety of wildlife, including very many different birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums and black bears and white-tailed deer browse the foliage (Munger, 2003).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • 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

  • Fruits
  • Honey/honey flora
  • Seeds

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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E. umbellata is closely related to another Asiatic native, E. angustifolia, which is also invasive in the USA. E. angustifolia leaves remain silvery until the leaves are shed in autumn, while in E. umbellata the silvery scales which cover young leaves in spring wear off during the summer so that the leaves turn greener.

Prevention and Control

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Control

Controlling invasive E. umbellata may require frequent monitoring and repeated treatments to achieve success, and because seeds can be dispersed long distances by birds, it should also be eradicated in surrounding areas. If the infested area is large or if eradication of surrounding populations is not feasible, land managers should focus control efforts in the most ecologically significant and/or least invaded areas first. In closed-canopy forests, control can likely be achieved through routine monitoring and eradication of new individuals by hand pulling or spot applications of herbicide, and where appropriate, maintaining dense, frequently mowed grass or other dense native vegetation can help prevent establishment of seedlings (Munger, 2003).

Cultural control and sanitary measures

A 25-year study in Illinois, USA found prairies invaded by Cornus drummundii and Prunus serotina with Cornus florida and exotic E. umbellata dominating on the edges, and cutting combined with controlled burning was recommended to increase the size of the hill prairie (Owens and Cole, 2003). The use of fire in areas where E. umbellata is present may be appropriate depending on management objectives and habitats invaded (see Munger, 2003).

Physical/mechanical control

Hand pulling young seedlings can be effective especially in moist soil, and seedlings are easiest to identify in early spring in the USA as they produce leaves earlier than most native shrubs. Mowed or cut plants resprout vigorously so physical methods alone will probably not be effective, and even repeated cutting is apparently ineffective without treating stumps and/or resprouts with herbicide (Munger, 2003).

Biological control

A species-specific rust was found attacking E. umbellata in China, Aecidium elaeagni-umbellatae (Huang et al., 2004), and this and further pests and pathogens from the native range could be tested as biocontrol agents.

Chemical control

Several herbicides have been used alone or in combination to provide effective control (see Sather and Eckardt, 2001; Munger, 2003). Dicamba, glyphosate or 2,4-D (but not metsulfuron methyl) have been used as effective foliar-applied herbicides especially on shorter plants, and on larger plants, glyphosate, triclopyr and/or 2,4-D used effectively on resprouts, or basal-bark applications of triclopyr. In invaded tree plantation in Illinois, USA, triclopyr reduced E. umbellata from 12.5 to 3.9 stems/m2, but recommended that intensive control efforts focusing on relatively small areas in large well-established populations are only moderately effective and control efforts must be repeated every 5 years to achieve eradication (Edgin and Ebinger, 2001).

References

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Contributors

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11/11/16 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

29/02/2008 Updated by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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